Rihanna has spent the past four years extending her empire beyond the music industry and into the world of fashion with her lingerie brand Savage x Fenty. This year’s fashion show was set to feature a surprise guest. However, ahead of its release, TMZ leaked that the surprise guest would be none other than Johnny Depp.
The actor, who spent most of the past two years in courtrooms with his ex-wife Amber Heard battling libel and defamation cases, was the “star” of the show modelling the brand’s first men’s collection. So what does this mean for Rihanna, her brand, and Depp himself?
Despite Depp losing his libel case in March 2021, he won his defamation case in June of this year and consequently, The Guardian reported, “the once-disgraced actor [is] being rehabilitated by the entertainment industry.” This year alone, Depp has appeared in August’s MTV Video Music Awards and Dior resumed screening his Sauvage Eau de Parfum advert. This means that the actor is well on his way to regaining his place back in mainstream pop culture.
It’s no secret that Hollywood loves a redemption arc. We have famously seen with Robert Downey Jr, and we are currently witnessing one with Brad Pitt, following accusations by ex-wife Angelina Jolie of abuse on a private plane. Could this be the revival of Johnny Depp that he has been waiting for?
Before we get to that, Depp isn’t the only one facing a renaissance this year as Rihanna herself is also making a comeback. After focusing on her beauty and lingerie brands, the singer has earned herself billionaire status – making her Barbados’ first billionaire. However, after six years of radio silence in the music industry, Rihanna released her first song ‘Lift Me Up’ for the new Black Panther movie: Wakanda Forever. She will also be performing at next year’s Super Bowl.
There has been no explanation from Rihanna or the Savage x Fenty brand as to why Depp is starring in ‘Vol. 4’, but it was reported that it was Rihanna’s own idea. The cameo had already been filmed before the news was leaked but there’s no doubt that the other stars such as Cara Delevingne and Taraji P. Henson will, “fall under his shadow.”
Rihanna’s fan base is known for being loyal, but could this cameo be a test of such? The singer herself was a victim of a violent attack by then-boyfriend Chris Brown which brings into question her reasons for featuring Depp in her brand’s fashion show. Especially since Amber Heard’s lawyers are calling for a retrial.
Vanity Fair argues that, “[c]ourting controversy has never been for her,” which does little to explain her decision. They say that both Depp and Rihanna might even benefit in the short term as his fans are equally if not more “powerfully vocal and loyal” than hers.
With the release of new music and her upcoming Super Bowl performance, it’s estimated that Rihanna will, “probably glide above this controversy she’s courted… Her fans will be her fans despite this weird breach.“
Whilst I can’t argue with Hollywood redemption tales and fanbase loyalty, is there a wider implication for featuring Depp in her fashion show? It’s rather a grey area since both parties were accused of alleged abuse during their divorce in 2018, and Depp won his defamation case but lost his libel case.
Moreover, Depp is already set to make comebacks both behind the scenes and on screen, which suggests that Rihanna’s stunt would have little to impact this. I, myself, however can’t help but wonder why she chose to do so in the first place – but I suppose sadly we’re never likely to find out.