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Rihanna Is Ready to Confess



Okay, so it’s the night after the last day of Milan Fashion Week and I’m at a giant arena on the outskirts of Milan to interview my former boss, Rihanna, for our Spring cover story. I walked in and there were, like, 50 dancers rehearsing for a one-off private show she was doing in India later that week. Songs like “Work” and “We Found Love” were reverberating through the space in a really intense way that took me back to when I was her stylist. When you’re in an empty arena and the music is pumping like that, the whole place starts shaking and you realize the magnitude of megastardom—but I wasn’t stressed about it. I was just there to get this interview done. At 3 a.m. Rihanna and I ducked behind some lush curtains that opened up to a really comfortable backstage setup. We took off our shoes, got cozy, and for the next 90 minutes, she gave Interview her all.

Alleyne, who’s my new favorite designer because I am struggling with tops.

OTTENBERG: People aren’t making the right tops. Also, you need an open neck a lot of the time.

RIHANNA: Dude. There’s no open necks.

OTTENBERG: For our shoot, I was like, “Okay, what are the people missing from Rihanna? They’re really missing the cuntiest, sickest-smelling Rihanna red carpet looks.” Then I started looking at the runways and I was like, “There’s no open necks. She’s not going to like this stuff. I need a new idea.”

RIHANNA: Here’s the thing. We have always been good at working with what I have to offer.


organized, and then whatever gets too small for RZA, I put into bins so that Riot can have them next. Riot is actually in all of RZA’s 1-year-old clothes already. He’s only six months. Everybody thinks Rocky dresses them because I dress them in Rocky outfits.

OTTENBERG: What was RZA’s first word?



RIHANNA: I used to try to get his attention all the time, and I would say, “Hey, hey, hey.” And one day he said it back to me in the same melody and I kept singing it and he kept following it over and over again.


RIHANNA: Super cute.

OTTENBERG: I can’t believe you have two babies.

RIHANNA: I can’t believe I have two babies.

OTTENBERG: I can’t believe I’m backstage with you at 3:30 in the morning and you have two babies.

RIHANNA: Mel Ottenberg, have you met me? That’s the usual.

OTTENBERG: No, no, no. I’m just shocked that we’re doing this interview here. I haven’t been backstage and I haven’t felt the reverberations of a stadium in so long, so it reminds me of when I first worked with you and how scary it all was. It’s exciting, but it’s not PTSD. It’s more like—


OTTENBERG: No, it’s not.

RIHANNA: We lost a diamond hoop on our first performance.


RIHANNA: Did you have insurance for that one?

OTTENBERG: No, it wasn’t real.

RIHANNA: So why did you pass out over it?

OTTENBERG: Okay, what happened, people, is that—

RIHANNA: “You have to return the earring to clear us, guys.”

OTTENBERG: Let me go backwards. We worked together in 2007. I styled you for Elle. I found the pictures today. It’s so wild. And you were fun and cool, and then I got hired to do you for—

RIHANNA: [Laughs] Was I fun and cool?

OTTENBERG: Yeah, you were fun and cool and sassy and cute.

RIHANNA: I was so young, and I was like, “Do whatever, Mel.” It’s kind of like this cover.

OTTENBERG: Wait. In 2007, you were 19.

RIHANNA: I never had done a publication that big at that point.


RIHANNA: And I trusted you.

OTTENBERG: You trusted that it was the right thing to do.

RIHANNA: You people have been doing this forever. They wanted me? I’m not going to come in there like I know anything.

OTTENBERG: Right, right, right. Anyway, then I saw the “Rude Boy” video, and thought, “I don’t like these clothes, but I love her and the way she wears fashion is transcending something. I want to work with her.” I manifested it in that moment.

RIHANNA: I never knew where that came from.

OTTENBERG: Wait, is this your diaper bag? What’s in the diaper bag?

RIHANNA: This is Riot’s rag. This is RZA’s pacifier.

OTTENBERG: Oh, sick. What game do you play?

RIHANNA: Rocky taught me this game called Crazy Eights, and it gets very competitive. Actually most of our arguments stem from it.


RIHANNA: Yeah, it gets very serious. But he taught me, and then he cheats, and then the rules change every time we play. It’s not just me that says this. His friends say this, too.


RIHANNA: But it’s fun. And I beat his ass sometimes, but he beats me most of the time.

OTTENBERG: Wait, so you guys were involved in some way before. Then when did you start going out, going out? 2012?

RIHANNA: No! We didn’t meet—

OTTENBERG: I think “Fashion Killa” is 2012.

RIHANNA: Go back to the VMAs.

OTTENBERG: Oh my god. The VMAs. Remember—

RIHANNA: He grabbed my ass! What year was that?

OTTENBERG: It was 2012; 2013 was the Diamonds [World] Tour.

RIHANNA: I’m bad with years, so I believe you. So that was the day that we thought we met. At rehearsal, so it was, like, manager to manager, client to client.


RIHANNA: So when he grabbed my ass that night, everybody thought I was about to—

OTTENBERG: That you guys were fucking.

RIHANNA: No, my team was worried that I wanted to have his head on a fucking mantle. [Laughs]


RIHANNA: But I was like,“Ah, nah.” That’s why everybody was like, “Oh my god. She likes him.”

OTTENBERG: Wait, were you guys dating when “Fashion Killa” happened?

RIHANNA: Hell no. He asked me to be in a video. Virgil [Abloh] shot that.

OTTENBERG: I never asked questions because it was, like, TMI.

RIHANNA: We saw fashion the same. We saw creative the same. We ended up in the same circles a lot. And past that, when we grew up, we ended up supporting each other’s brands and products and creative all the time. I would wear his shit, he would show up to my launches. But it wasn’t until the end of 2019—

OTTENBERG: Was it a DM, a text?

we were ready.

OTTENBERG: But you were just together and you’re, like, “Oh, let’s fucking go”?

RIHANNA: I mean, we didn’t even really talk about it. There was no denying it. It was the best thing that ever happened to us. It just happened.


RIHANNA: I let god lead and just let go. Because in previous relationships, I tried and tried and tried my best, and you still feel like it’s not enough. So when someone sees you completely, and believes in you, and thinks you’re worthy of being the mother of their kids, it’s a great feeling. I felt the same about him. I knew he would be a great dad.

OTTENBERG: Sick. How many more kids do you want?

RIHANNA: As many as god wants me to have.

OTTENBERG: Okay. But more than two?

RIHANNA: I don’t know what god wants, but I would go for more than two. I would try for my girl. But of course if it’s another boy, it’s another boy.

OTTENBERG: Okay. What are you watching on TV?

RIHANNA: I don’t get to watch a lot of TV anymore, but Housewives is always my priority.

OTTENBERG: I was asked to be the bartender this week, but I’m in Milan.

RIHANNA: For Watch What Happens Live [With Andy Cohen]?

ask you. Do you miss being on the internet, like really on the internet? Like, “Good luck booking that stage you speak of ” internet? Because you were so good at it.

RIHANNA: The troll in me, she had a time. Unfortunately, you can’t take anything back from the internet, so I will always have the reminders, but the best troll in me is the silent troll.

OTTENBERG: One of my favorite tweets of yours that I can’t find is the one that says, “Life’s a bitch, and her pussy wet.” Does that ring a bell?

RIHANNA: Did you delete that, Carolyn [Rihanna’s head of digital]?


OTTENBERG: Yeah, I think you deleted it, Carolyn.

RIHANNA: You deleted it.

GIRONDO: This is taking a turn.

OTTENBERG: [Laughs] Now, we’re mad, because I have looked multiple times. When it’s Ri’s birthday or something, I’m like, “I don’t want to do an old picture. I just want to post that and get away with it.”

RIHANNA: You got so many pictures in your phone that you haven’t posted, too.

OTTENBERG: I know, I have all those pictures because I never did that book. Alright so—

RIHANNA: “I never did that book”?

OTTENBERG: Remember, I was going to do a book before your book?

RIHANNA: A tell-all?

OTTENBERG: [Laughs] Yeah, my tell-all. You tortured me. I turned you into a fashion monster. You wanted more, more, and more. And also, you would be, like, “I need the most obscure panty.”

RIHANNA: Listen, anytime we do something, the next thing just has to be better.

OTTENBERG: I completely agree. And by the way, that work ethic—

RIHANNA: I just think you should want more too, every time.

OTTENBERG: I do, bitch. Totally. But what I mean is—sorry. Good torture. Great torture.

RIHANNA: It’s giving Garcelle [Beauvais] and Dorit [Kemsley]. I didn’t attack you, Mel.

OTTENBERG: No, no, no, no. You didn’t attack me at all.

RIHANNA: Then torture you.

OTTENBERG: What I meant is, when you’re styling the biggest diva with the best fucking style in the world—

RIHANNA: Dorit, this is what you should have said.

OTTENBERG: Wait. I need another Coke. Hold on. [Pauses] Okay. I have a few more very short questions. This is such a sick interview, by the way.

RIHANNA: I love it.

OTTENBERG: Are you amazed at where your life is now? Like 10 or 15 years ago, would you have any idea?

RIHANNA: I wouldn’t have had any idea. The only thing that I knew I wanted, or that I could imagine, was motherhood. I didn’t know how it would come, but it is the best part of my journey so far. Everything else was a surprise.

OTTENBERG: Right. So we’re in a rehearsal space, which is—I’ve been interviewing you for a while and we haven’t talked about music. Do you have the vibe to do music again since we’re at a fucking rehearsal hall in 2024? Maybe it’s really sick if I just don’t bring up new music in this whole interview, actually.

RIHANNA: I have a lot of visual ideas. It’s weird. My brain is working backward right now. I usually have the music first, and the music leads me into all of these visual opportunities, and now I’m having all of these visuals, and I don’t have the songs for them yet, but maybe that’s the key, this time. Maybe the visual ideas are leading me to the songs that I need to make.

OTTENBERG: Like a rebirth of you?

RIHANNA: Random ideas, quirky ideas, things that have nothing to do with me at all. I mean, I can’t tell you. The opps is watching.

OTTENBERG: Okay. I’ll let everyone else ask about that other stuff.

RIHANNA: [Laughs] What? The new album?

OTTENBERG: The new music, yeah. I’m like, these are the kind of questions—

The devil doesn’t want me up.

OTTENBERG: He doesn’t. She doesn’t.

RIHANNA: Why you have to change it to “she”? I caught that.

OTTENBERG: Who are you fake around?

RIHANNA: Your team wrote that?

OTTENBERG: Yeah. That’s a good question, actually.

RIHANNA: Yeah. I’m proud of that question. I need to think about that. Oh, my mom. I am terrified of that woman and she is just the greatest. I have the utmost respect for her, so I don’t even want to swear around her, drink around her, smoke or nothing. I have to be on my best behavior.

OTTENBERG: Is there a Rihanna that nobody sees?

RIHANNA: Uh, yeah.


RIHANNA: I just wanted to say, you’re staring at me like you want me to tell you that?

OTTENBERG: I don’t. I mean, she’s private.

RIHANNA: Fuck off, Mel.

OTTENBERG: There you have it, people.

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