Rihanna news incoming! While tabloid headlines cashing in on the star’s latest street-style look centred around her natural hair (why this is still surprising in 2024 is beyond us), anyone with an ounce of fashion knowledge will have zeroed in immediately on Rih’s handbag. A Tippex-white beacon of style history, the graffitied version of Louis Vuitton’s signature ladylike Alma bag comes from the early Noughties collaboration that ripped up the playbook around sacred house logos.

Nowadays, the collab market is oversaturated as brands try to out-capsule collection each other with expensive unions that hold increasingly impressive cultural caché, but back in 2001, when then-LV creative director Marc Jacobs invited artist friend Stephen Sprouse to quite literally scrawl all over Vuitton’s storied archive, it was positively thrilling. The shock tactics paid off and marked a new dawn of luxury behemoths relaxing a little and, dare we say, having fun.

It was a big call from Jacobs, who, critic Sarah Mower recalls, first saw Sprouse’s signature graffiti prints at his inaugural show in 1984 at the Ritz Club. “It was incredible decadence – dark, punky, edgy,” recalls Jacobs. “The audience was downtown club kids sitting next to Vogue and New York Times fashion editors. It was the first time that had happened in New York.” Despite being crowned Best New Designer that year by the CFDA, Sprouse’s business model failed and the man who art directed all of Blondie’s early work had faded into relative obscurity by the time Jacobs took the hot seat at LV in 1997.

What a comeback: everyone, from Kim Kardashian to Agyness Deyn, Kelis to Paris Hilton, carried a Louis Vuitton X Stephen Sprouse bag. The collection was energetic, fresh and tongue-in-cheek – a knowing two fingers up to the hallowed halls of fashion from two creative disruptors. Rihanna, an avid collector of rare Vuittons (see her football-shaped bag designed for the 1998 World Cup and her edit of limited-edition vanity cases created in collaboration with artists, such as Takashi Murakami and Frank Gehry) naturally bought in. The businesswoman already owns a Sprouse adaptation of the much-loved Speedy and the Pochette, so it’s hardly surprising a gritty version of the Alma is now buttressing her archive.

Rih styled her punky monochrome throwback in the kind of high-low manner the industry adores: with a faux fur coat shrugged artfully over her shoulders to reveal a lace bralette under a crop top, black trousers and Perspex heels. At this point, heavy chain jewellery and sunglasses are a prerequisite of any Rihanna look – as well as that knowing smile that she’s pulled off something special. Don’t be surprised if you see Sprouse’s iconic scribbles popping up on your social feed this summer – Rihanna’s midas touch is far more valuable for Louis Vuitton than its latest collab coup. Hot graffiti summer incoming.

← Older Post Newer Post →