Few would deny that Rihanna is a beautiful girl. Fewer still would dispute that she looks phenomenal in these stunning photos that appeared in the 25-year-old’s Instagram feed this past Friday. In them, the international superstar is discreetly covered in head-to-toe black, serving hijab realness during a visit to the magnificent Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. That said, I completely understand why they've stirred up some serious drama online.
Riri looks great. It’s all retro and dramatic and slightly severe and it reminds me of either Antonio Lopez or Patrick Nagel illustrations since the pitch-black against stark white domes and the bright sky all looks gloriously geometrical. In fact, I was impressed your girl managed to keep it covered throughout the United Arab Emirates leg of her Diamonds World Tour in bolts and bolts of fabric, like these white ensembles by KTZ (Kokontozai).
Given the arrests and scandals beleaguering those left in the wake of the Thailand stop of her tour, it would seem that Rihanna was trying hard to play it straight. So why was the singer asked to leave the mosque grounds? The NY Daily News reports that it was because she was “posing for some photos that were racy by the standards of the holy site,” going on to imply that her scarlet red lipstick (MAC's Riri Woo we'd hazard to guess) was considered problematic.
They add the following statement from a mosque rep:
"She left without entering the mosque, after being asked to do so, due to the fact that she had taken some pictures that do not conform with the conditions and regulations put in place by the Centre’s management to regulate visits in a way that takes the status and sanctity of the mosque into consideration."
Sounds like some diplomatic language that has nothing to do with her outfit or makeup. Like, I get that the mosque is free for visitors and makes for a mind-blowing backdrop to photos but it's a religious center and mausoleum for the late ruler of Abu Dhabi so I'm on the fence about draping oneself on the floor.
The way I see it, the biggest problem isn't what she's wearing (despite everyone being used to reporting all sorts of salacious sartorial gossip). According to the mosque's FAQ's and their handy PDF entitled "Mosque Manners", Rihanna's totally following the rules, her head is covered as are her arms and legs. It seems more an issue of homegirl not clearing the photo shoot with the mosque.
While these look like regular Instagram shots, Rihanna actually rolled up to the scene with photographers Steven Gomillion and Dennis Leupold (who she shouts out for the photos). Credited as Gomillion & Leopuld, their work has appeared in Elle Mexico and Z!nk. Whether or not these images will appear as a fashion editorial in a magazine or who owns the syndication or rights to this shoot is unclear. They may argue that they didn't intend on a shoot and just went where their artistic little hearts told them to but it seems highly unlikely that the mosque would have even obliged them had they asked. Whatever the scenario, it does all seem very @badgalriri not to ask permission.