So the talk of the town, or rather the globe for the past week has been the Met Gala. Never mind the lack of relevance to Guyana; everyone who is connected to social media in any form or fashion would have been able to see the ‘gowns’ that were worn and the commentary that followed.

20140118boxFor information sake, the Met Gala is an annual event that marks the grand opening of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s fashion exhibit. It’s a fund raiser (tickets cost US$25,000 per person) and has a different theme each year, which celebrates the theme of the exhibit. So guests can really allow their imaginations to soar. This event has been held since 1946, and its attendees are usually personalities from high-society and the arts, fashion, film and music industries.

It was at last year’s gala that the infamous elevator incident involving Solange Knowles and her brother-in-law Jay-Z occurred. That made the rounds for weeks after with everyone and her mother claiming to know what happened and why. The stories were neither confirmed nor denied and the incident will forever remain under wraps, unless one of the people involved decides to do a ‘tell all’.

This year the theme is ‘China: Through the Looking Glass’ and at least three famous women either misinterpreted it, or took it literally and decided to let it all hang out. But guess who was the most talked about? Rihanna, who for a change was fully clothed. In fact, the costume she wore had so much cloth that she could easily have spared the blushes of Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian; not that any of them blushed, mind you. There may have been others in revealing gowns but these three took the biscuit. Carefully placed lace, sequins and beads were all that made their gowns different from the emperor’s new clothes.

Now Rihanna, who has done and overdone ‘dressing’ (if one can call it that) in the ‘all-together’, wore a long yellow faux fur, embroidered concoction which inspired some of the most glorious memes we have seen in a while. Mere minutes after she exited her vehicle, assisted by three attendants, who had the task of unfurling and fixing her feet-long train, Rihanna’s bilious gown was the subject of an omelet meme. Soon it was joined by bacon and other breakfast items. The memes kept coming, Big Bird, the Yellow Brick Road, pizza, Hot Pocket, even the famous Trinidad and Tobago doubles, chicken curry and channa curry.

Seconds after we agreed that it also looked like bile from someone’s jaundiced stomach, there was a vomit meme. The social media creative types had a field day with Rihanna’s gown as their main source.

In days gone by, if you got all dolled up and someone laughed at your dress, you’d be likely to go home, curl up in a ball and cry. Nowadays it’s called making a statement and people dress in outfits they know will be talked about—whether good or bad—and will generate interest.

As much as we did not like the colour of Ri-Ri’s gown we have to admit that she most certainly made a statement and probably generated more interest than if she had gone the Beyoncé, JLo and KimK route. We’re sure it was carefully planned and it was certainly well executed.

You have to remember that Rihanna, who was born in Barbados and started gaining international attention in 2005, has not dropped an album since 2012’s ‘Unapologetic’. Her last two songs “FourFiveSeconds” with Kanye West and Paul McCartney and “@#tch Better Have My Money” did not have the resounding success of her earlier music. She has tried acting but Battleship, the only film so far in which she had a decent role, sunk before it had completed its maiden voyage – not necessarily because of her; it was just a bad film.

Rihanna is talented, but so are thousands of other singers, many of whom also have mad musical, lyrical and songwriting skills that have never been part of her forte. She is only 27 years old, still young and neither deaf nor blind. So that when she hears and sees the competition, she must be asking herself, how do I stay relevant? No one wants to be a former anything, especially if one has basked in the spotlight. In this Rihanna is no moocher. She is never far from the headlines. Even if you don’t agree with all of her tactics, you have to applaud her for her shrewdness. If and when Ri-Ri exits the limelight, it will be on her terms and when she is ready. She has put the world on notice, joining just a handful of Caribbean stars who have been able to do this convincingly and perhaps surpassing them all.

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