Exclusive: Rihanna's Stylist Mel Ottenberg on Her Already Iconic Met Gala Look
The artist's longtime stylist tells Billboard how he and RiRi chose her Comme des Garçons garment for Monday night: "This had a special harmony to it"
There are no actual prizes given for best dressed at the Met Gala, but if there were, Rihanna and her longtime stylist Mel Ottenberg would have grabbed the gold, yet again. The star stepped out on Monday night's red carpet wearing an abstract floral ruffled garment from Comme des Garçons, the opening look of the line's 2016 runway collection and an outfit that was anything but the ordinary evening gown. The choice made it clear that the duo had done their homework in finding and executing a look to honor designer Rei Kawakubo, the subject of this year's Costume Institute exhibition. "There was never any doubt in my mind that Rihanna should wear Comme des Garçons to the Met Gala this year," says Ottenberg. "We actually picked this look out in January, and I knew it was the one."
Ottenberg says that he pored through about 15 to 20 of the line's runway shows and communicated back and forth with the brand's designer house to find the perfect look for Rihanna, one that would be "simultaneously very Comme des Garçons and also the right thing for the Met Ball," he says. "This look had a special harmony to it. It was everything I was looking for."
Though Rihanna told Vogue's André Leon Talley that the garment was actually quite easy to slip into, Ottenberg admits that "it's not an easy look," he says. "The cut is extreme, but the petals give it a feminine effect. The fabric is incredibly beautiful." The stylist paired the garment with the artist's own colorful baubles from her collaboration with Swiss jeweler Chopard and added a pair of custom thigh-high lace-up sandals from DSquared2, both of which "made it the right look for Rihanna," he says.
The duo has a history of well-thought-out looks for the Met Gala's themes, and it was Rihanna's 2015 yellow fur-trimmed gown, created by Chinese designer Guo Pei, that stands out as one of the event's most memorable moments of all time.
Though Ottenberg says he was surprised that more attendees were not dressed in Comme des Garçons, he loved seeing the line on the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Stella Tennant, Michelle Lamy and Helen Lasichanh. "Comme des Garçons is hardcore," he says. "It's not for the faint of heart or less adventurous dressers."