Rihanna makes history as she fronts the May issue of British Vogue in a durag

Rihanna photographed by Steven Klein for British Vogue. Image via Instagram
Rihanna photographed by Steven Klein for British Vogue. Image via Instagram

We saw a durag on the red carpet for perhaps the first time in years when Solange donned one at 2018 Met Gala themed 'Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination'. The words "My God wears a durag" were emboldened on the hem of this cascading durag accessorised with a braided halo. 

This was a moment that earned itself several standalone articles, praising the "Don't Touch My Hair" singer's authenticity and explaining the significance of wearing such an inherent part of black culture at a 'prestigious' fashion event. 

Aside from 1990s and early 2000s rappers, a durag had never been seen on the red carpet until Rihanna wore a Swarovski crystal encrusted durag at the 2014 CFDA Fashion Awards and later, Solange's Met Gala one. And up until the May 2020 issue of the British edition of Vogue Magazine, no cover star in this publication's history had ever worn one until Rihanna. 

READ MORE: Talking that talk since 1988: 14 times Rihanna made a case for her Fashion Icon title 

In an Instagram caption where Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, dropped the cover this Monday, he beams; "... did I ever imagine that I would see a durag on the cover of Vogue? No, reader, I did not. Although this potent symbol of black life – of self-preservation, resistance and authenticity – has an important place in popular culture, it is rarely viewed through the prism of high fashion. Yet, here we have the most fabulous, aspirational and beautiful durag, worn by a woman who is breaking every boundary she comes up against. How exciting." 

The moment could've been elevated just a smidge had the durag been designed by a black designer/milliner given the historical significance of such a statement, however it was designed by British milliner Stephen Jones, who is highly respected in the industry nonetheless. 

A Vogue article musing on the sartorial reclamation of the durag - which has now been catapulted by this cover - mentions Bedtime Bonnet author's Nancy Amanda Redd’s sentiments about this culturally loaded piece of fabric. "A durag on the red carpet is more than just a fashion choice. It’s a statement of black pride from the wearer who is utilising their influence to celebrate a facet of our culture that has either been ignored or unfairly denigrated by mainstream stereotypes" says Nancy. 

In this article, it's also mentioned that the durag was Rihanna's idea. Of course! The FENTY founder featured durags as part of her Fenty x Puma spring collection circa 2017.

This is the third time Edward has made history since the start of his tenure - and the second in collaboration with Rihanna. His first September issue as the editor of British Vogue was fronted by the 32-year-old beauty maven as the first-ever black woman cover star for the magazine's September issue, while Beyoncé introduced the U.S. edition of Vogue to its first-ever black photographer in 126 years, Tyler Mitchell, for their September issue. 

rihanna's historic british vogue cover

Former duchess Meghan Markle guest editing the 2019 September issue, completes this hat-trick of unprecedented moves for the British editor. 

READ MORE: The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, guest edits British Vogue, and we think that's a bigger honour than being a cover star  

Inside the issue, Rihanna is also seen in a hairstyle that can be attributed to the Himba tribe of Namibia. Again, another nod to black cultural influences. 

Lastly, the May 2020 issue adds to this fashion-bending star's expanding archive of Vogue covers across the international titles, including covering the Met Gala editions three times.

Let's take a look at a few of the most iconic issues Ms Fenty has graced over recent years: 

Photographed by Hanna Moon for Vogue Hong Kong's September 2019 issue.  

Photographed by Nick Knight for Vogue U.K.'s September 2018 issue.  

Photographed by Juergen Teller for Vogue Paris, December 2017. 

Photographed by Jean Paul Goude for Vogue Paris, December 2017. 

Photographed by Mert & Marcus for Vogue US, April 2016. 

rihanna british vogue
Screenshot via Vogue 

Photographed by Josh Olins for Vogue Australia, May 2019. 

Photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue Us, November 2012. 

rihanna british vogue

Photographed by Greg Kadel for Vogue Arabia, November 2017. 

rihanna british vogue

Additional images via Vogue Arabia.

Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram

Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our stories and giveaways.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24