Rihanna is one of the hardest working women in music, entertainment, and fashion. 

The global icon has teamed up with another legend, photographer Lorna Simpson, for the cover of Essence’s January/February 2021 issue, which offers a series of photographic collages in a 12-page spread titled “Of Earth & Sky.”

“Lorna is a legend,” Rihanna told Essence of the artist with a career spanning three-decades. “Honestly, I just didn’t think I could get her. But I like reaching for the stars and I like challenging myself.”

In the photo spread, Simpson gives us a reimagined version of Rihanna dressed in Givenchy, Prada, Rick Owens, Hood by Air, and the singer’s own brand, Savage X Fenty. The pop star poses in a sheer white outfit, laying in an oyster shell, while another image finds her in black lingerie and a feathered headpiece posing on a sepia-toned bridge.

“I needed to create images of Rihanna to place within the environments of source materials from my archive,” said Simpson, who creates collages that recontextualize images of Black women from vintage pages of Ebony and Jet magazines, among others. 

“For the project to have the same kind of dramatic visual intensity as my collage work to date, I had to consider the atmosphere and lighting of specific source materials before arriving to set,” Simpson continued. “Knowing Rihanna’s charisma and commanding presence, my effort was then to be as present and prepared as possible to capture her exquisite performance for the camera.”

Rihanna’s Essence cover hits newsstands January 19, and will also pay homage to Vice-President ElectKamala Harris. In addition, it also features an interview with the nation’s first Black president, Barack Obama, and Cicely Tyson, who shares an excerpt from her forthcoming book, Just as I Am: A Memoir.

#Rihanna is sitting on top of the world in our January + February portfolio feature! The global fashion and beauty founder collaborated with artist @lornasimpson for the ultimate tribute to modern-day glamour and vintage beauty in this spectacular artist rendering. #ESSENCE pic.twitter.com/8WgIDFuaHf

— ESSENCE (@Essence) January 14, 2021

By Rachel George
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