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Rihanna’s Shocking New ‘W’ Photos Evoke Witch Doctor Chic (see!)

Rihanna poses in 'witch doctor chic' for W magazine.  (Photo by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for W magazine)

Rihanna poses in ‘witch doctor chic’ for W magazine. (Photo by Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott for W magazine)

Rihanna poses in a new photo spread for fashion bible ‘W’ magazine that’s supposed to reflect a “tribal” theme. But it literally plays off racial stereotypes almost as much as Johnny Depp’s Tonto in “The Lone Ranger.”

Stylist Edward Enninful did everything but put a bone through her nose in the shoot by well known fashion photographers Mert Alas and Marcus Piggott.

Oddly, most of the clothes are from designers like Donna Karan (DKNY), Alexander McQueen and Michael Khors, who couldn’t be any more white bread.

And the heavy use of furs certainly isn’t going to endear her to animal rights groups. The Barbadian singer has had several run-ins in the past with PETA, known formally as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Johnny Depp as Tonto. His costume was widely criticized by Native Americans.

Johnny Depp as Tonto. His costume was widely criticized by Native Americans.

She was soundly criticized in 2012 for wearing real snakeskin boots in London. But that pales in comparison to her latest shoot.

What’s most appalling about it is the fact that it’s represented as “native,” suggesting that the look is some how representative of Africa. But her outfits are no more African than Depp’s Tonto was Comanche.

She looks more like a character out of another Depp movie, “Pirates of the Caribbean.” In fact, she looks just like a white designer might imagine a “native” would look.

Rihanna Shows Off Her Savage Style in W Mag
(Click Photos to Enlarge!)
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The photo spread is titled “Bad Gal Rihanna: The World’s Wildest Style Icon.” But you can bet the 26-year-old singer didn’t choose these clothes.

Rihanna posted the photos on Twitter with the caption “Eskimo Horror Cover Story @Wmag September Issue.” She’s got that right.

Her blue face-paint on the cover shot makes her look more like a Scottish Pict from the Iron Age. The Picts where portrayed as wild savages in English literature. That, of course, was a fantasized stereotype as well.

Another photo has her hunkering down with wolves, wearing a massive, hooded fur cape. Are we still in the Iron Age? She looks like she’s bucking for a part on “Game of Thrones.”

But what’s mostly disturbing is the unmistakable association of many of her accessories with African tribal themes and styles. Is this cultural appropriation? Generally, we scoff at the term. But in this case an argument can be made.

Rihanna’s dress is by DKNY, the headdress is by Ashley Lloyd. She wears Amrapali ruby and diamond ear cuffs; Meadowlark septum ring and a sterling silver and pyrite necklace by Stephen Dweck.

The coat is by Michael Kors, the hooded cape comes from Alexander McQueen and her boots are by Marc Jacobs.

She also wears a Comme des Garçons sweater; Helen Yarmak coat; Nicole Miller Artelier skirt; Candice Angélini 
mask (worn as headpiece); Yves Salomon stole (in hair) and Leather, Suede, Skins, Inc brown fur (in hair), according to the magazine.

Her hair is by Yusef Williams for Matrix at Factory Downtown; makeup is by Kabuki for Dior 
at Kabukimagic and manicure by Maria Salandra.

If Rihanna hopes to be a style icon, she better be more selective about who dresses her.

Check out her photos, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter for the latest fashion news. For more check out W magazine.


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