When asked if I wanted to be a wardrobe assistant for Rihanna I couldn’t say no. I sold my ticket and braced myself for what I knew would be the gig of a lifetime. I mean, how often do you get to experience your idol’s workplace from the inside? The machinery around her, the hours and hours of preparations and studious work that goes into getting her wardrobe ready for stage. This was a world I’d been longing to see, and August 2nd 2016 was the day of deliverance.
How the hell did I end up there though? I have to send a huge thank you to my friend Sandra for this. A couple of months ago she recommended me when they (Live Nation) needed someone to fill in for her as a wardrobe assistant for the Dixie Chicks, and after that I’ve been their go to whenever Sandra isn’t available. With an artist as big as Rihanna, they needed two assistants though so we were both there.
Our day started 11:45 and ended at midnight, with barely any breaks (30 minutes for lunch, 1,5h for dinner). Most of the time was spent steaming and ironing. Sandra by the ironing board, me by the steamer. There’s three people in charge of the AWT wardrobe: one for Rih’s stuff, one for the girls’ stuff and one for the boys’. We worked for all three of them, helping whoever needed us at the time.
The dancers, back-up vocalists and band members have the most things to get ready though so that was the main focus for us. There’s so many of them and most have a double set of clothing which ALL had to be washed and prepared for next day’s concert at Smukfest, Denmark. That meant double the work for us! Yikes.
We steamed, ironed, polished shoes and cleaned chokers and blind folds for the first part of the day. Aside from the white Craig Green x Björn Borg parkas (plural, Rih also has a duplicates of most outfits) which Sandra had been ironing since we got there we didn’t work much on Rihanna’s costumes.
Therefor, I was a bit surprised when asked to steam her big ass Armani coat. This piece of clothing is even more stunning up close. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever held in my hands (+ my boss’ hands as it was to big for one person to carry) before. I took a mental note of how lucky I was to be experiencing all this and went on with steaming the hell out of each inch of fabric.
Once I was done I moved on to the, if possible, even more beautiful Armani jumpsuit she has on underneath. The leg part is covered in hair which all needs to be combed out and then steamed to not look like a hot mess (and more like a high end car wash) on stage. Going from seeing this creation front row to holding it in my hands, carefully handling the fine fabric with equal amount of respect and awe, was… How can I even explain it? A memorable moment that I’m very thankful for.
My pic from Oslo.
Another strange thing for someone that knows each and every person in her team was meeting them all in the hallways and dining room. Mylah (her make-up artist) was in front of me in lunch line, I met Jay Brown (manager) in the hallway, Yusuf on the way from the laundry room and High Hat (choreographer) on a soda run. Just walking past her dressing room with the bodyguards seated outside was a nerve wrecking experience because I didn’t want to seem unprofessional or have them think I was there as a fan. I finally told myself it was all in my head and kept on with my business of folding her bodyguards’ newly washed underwear.
What one might look like after sorting through Rihanna’s bodyguards’ laundry.
Speaking of underwear, we had been told we could watch the first song of the show before heading to our duties backstage, and went to the back of the arena to do so. As we were standing there, waiting on it all to start, we heard stressed out voices calling for us on the walkey talkeys. We ran out in panic thinking we had done something wrong, only to find out someone wanted us to take out another load of the team’s laundry. Why this couldn’t wait until after the first song I have no idea, but walking past all the dancers, band members etc in the hallway outside of Rih’s dressing room was a nice treat. They had such an energy going and started cheering for us as we passed. It made me happy to see what a nice vibe the whole crew has, such a good atmosphere to be traveling around in.
Then came the show! Malmö Arena is a really small place in comparison to most of the stops on this tour (Oslo, which was the smallest one I had attended before this, is twice as big for example) and you felt straight away the night was going to be special. I knew which door she was going to enter from so we waited there, close to Stage B, where it would also be easy to sneak out later.
I love how she always smirk a little underneath that hood! Such a treat for those close enough to see it and brakes the facade in true RiRi fashion. Once she removed the hood we got another treat though:
New wig!! A shorter, light brown one with bangs. There’s been debate about this on Twitter, but I’m 100% positive. The long hair she sported in Toronto on the night before was gorgeous but it’s always exciting to be amongst the first ones witnessing a new look live.
New hair, same happiness. She looks so damn satisfied with where she is right now. In life and on stage. It’s been like this all through AWT and it makes me extremely happy to see.
What didn’t make me happy was having to leave once Woo started. Last thing I saw was the epic first catwalk, before it was time to get ready for the dancers’ quick change. We had been assigned a spot on the left side of the stage where we were to wait on our cue. We could see parts of the audience from where we were standing, and every now and then Rihanna.
Then came the baskets of costumes and it was back to the wardrobe. We sorted everything out, treated the shoes and clothing with some freshening lotions and took a seat behind the monitors where we could see what was happening on stage. There was another quick change and some minor tasks before the show ended and everybody started to pack up. I was told to bring an empty rack to the girls dressing room when all of a sudden the door I had just opened was slammed back in my face. Rih was heading the same way so I wasn’t allowed just yet. If I’d opened the door 2 seconds later I would have seen her.
But nope, no sighting of her in all 12 hours. I didn’t think so either, but of course held onto some hope down to the very last second. Once I was done working I went over to the fans that were waiting for her outside. I wanted to hear about their experience and also find someone to hand over the my gift for Rih to. I could have asked someone inside but it never felt like the right time, plus it was important for me to separate the job. When security came out around 2.30pm or so we gave them our gifts though. Hopefully my friend Lina’s beautifully embroidered cap is in Rihanna’s possession now, along with Melina’s chokers and Ursula’s bracelet.
Praying they came through on their promise to give our gifts to her!