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Here’s How a Fashion Student’s Design Ended Up on Rihanna

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Photo: Rihanna/Vevo

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It’s a big deal when Rihanna wears, well, anything, but the looks she chooses for her famously adventurous music videos are even more so. But instead of going with tried-and-true labels like Armani or Tommy Hilfiger in the "This Is What You Came For," she went with a designer who had barely just graduated from college.

Connecticut-born and Pratt Institute-educated Isabel Hall is the woman behind that glorious, glittering onesie in which Rihanna dances alone for the entirety of the music video. Speaking with Racked over email, she explains how one of her designs from her senior thesis project ended up on the body of Rihanna. You might want to get to know her — if this is any indication, chances are she'll be around for a while.

That glittering onesie is really something. What is it made out of? Where’d the idea for that come from?

Thank you! It's made out of this sheer mesh fabric that I fell in love with from the very beginning. The idea of the jumpsuit is that it has the ease and sportiness of something like a hoodie; there are no closures, the cowl neck opens and it's big enough that you can pull it on like a pair of pants. But cutting it in that glitter fabric gave it so much more purpose I think, it's so contradictory to the inspiration behind that silhouette.

How did it end up on Rihanna in the music video?

[Rihanna’s stylist] Mel [Ottenberg] came to the Pratt fashion show this year, which is where he saw my collection. I'm currently interning with Adam Selman, who works with Mel and Rihanna and helped me get in touch with Mel when he expressed an interest in the jumpsuit. It was originally pulled for a different project but ended up being exactly what they needed for the video!

When did you know for sure that it was going to be worn in the video? Did you get to meet her?

The whole thing happened so quickly; Mel's assistant texted me asking to borrow the jumpsuit but I didn't find out what it was for until after they had filmed the video. They gave me the good news later that week once everything was set in stone!

What was your reaction when Rihanna’s stylist approached you?

Hearing that Mel was interested in my work was amazing! It feels bizarre to work on something for so long and have complete control and then to just let it go and wait for feedback, so for that to be some of the first feedback I heard was pretty fantastic.

Has anyone else of Rihanna-status ever worn one of your garments?

Never. There may be something special coming in the future but for now it's still under wraps.

What’s your reaction to seeing the full music video?

Watching the video is unreal! For Rihanna to wear a piece, even just casually, is exciting but to watch an entire video with her wearing a look from the collection is something I never could have guessed would happen. I honestly couldn't imagine a better scenario.

As for the rest of your fall 2017 collection, what were some of your inspirations?

I'd been examining a lot of classically masculine looks, particularly in sports, and was particularly intrigued by '90s skaters. Everything is so baggy and elongated — it's attitude and masculinity without a suit or any form of structure, but still a very specific look. I wanted to treat masculinity as more of an attitude than an obligation based on gender, and show this by taking this boyish silhouette I was examining and putting it on a woman's body. The conversation happens in the choice of fabrics, whether they're sheer, glittery, luxurious or utilitarian. Everything holds a connotation and I think we pick up on that when we're wearing a garment.

What’s next for you post-Rihanna?

For now I'm planning on staying in the city. Currently I'm working on a collaboration with a close friend that will hopefully be out in the near future! I'd also like to focus on fashion illustration as well, which I've always been passionate about but haven't had much time for until now.

This interview has been edited and condensed. Watch the onesie in action below.