Icons of Cigars - Rihanna
When one discusses Cuban Cigars and their famous proponents the same names can often dominate the conversation. These names – Churchill, Freud, JFK – belong to some of the most famous men in modern history, men who have accomplished great things and ensured they will be remembered long after they, and we, are gone. While they may be rightly held in the zeitgeist as celebrated smokers, they fit all too easily the stereotype of the old, rich, white man – a stereotype that is far from the truth of the modern world. Today’s community of aficionados is diverse, cultured and forward thinking. Inclusivity is at its heart and a sense that cigars are for everyone, not just the fat-cats, abounds. No-one can be held as a better symbol of this elegance and style, of conscientious success and 21st-century excellence, than Robyn Rihanna Fenty.
Rihanna enjoys a slim panatela Cuban cigar. Image from Pintrest.
Since arriving in the public eye in 2005 as a fresh-faced young pop singer Rihanna has matured and evolved into a public figure known as well for her business success as her music. She is one of the biggest-selling musicians in history with over 250 million records sold; she is also the face of, and CEO behind, fashion line Fenty (a collaboration with French luxury titan LVMH) and its cosmetics companion Fenty Beauty. From performing at festivals to crowds upwards of 100,000 to roles in major Hollywood pictures such as Ocean’s 8 she is one of the foremost entertainers on the planet, yet she has also done considerable work as a philanthropist. It is only fitting that she is considered an icon of modern times.
Rihanna’s penchant for cigars was first brought to the public’s attention in 2014 as she enjoyed a large piramides with fellow singer Shakira in a music video. She is not the only modern woman to proudly enjoy what has long been seen as a male pastime and has regularly been pictured smoking more slender, panatella-sized cigars. She lists her favourite Cuban brand as Cohiba and it is rumoured that she took a tour of El Laguito when filming Guava Island in Havana in 2019. Rihanna’s brother, Rorrey Fenty, released a line of cigars made on their home island of Barbados in 2017 – the gala launch event in London (attended by Rihanna) saw limited edition boxes containing the sticks and a rare Faberge watch auctioned off for £800,000 each. It would seem a taste for the finer things in life runs in the family.
Rihanna has used Cuban cigars as props for many of her photoshoots and videos. Image from CNN.
Like so many who become public figures at a young age, Rihanna has grown up in the full view of the media and the watching world. Where some have fallen victim to the pressure and distractions this status can bring, she has performed admirably, quickly gaining an awareness of her audience and how to turn the attention paid to her into an advantage. Her fashion and beauty ranges have been created with diversity and inclusivity in mind – Fenty Beauty began with a launch of foundations in 40 different shades, designed to cater to women of all ethnicities, and was named one of the best inventions of 2017 by Time magazine. Far from being just the public face of the marketing campaign, Rihanna is CEO and the creative force behind the brand. She has proven herself to be an astute and forward-thinking business leader as well as a world-class entertainer.
In 2012, keen to build on work she had begun early in her career in the world of philanthropy, Rihanna launched the Clara Lionel Foundation, a non-profit organisation named in honour of her grandparents. The issues tackled by the foundation are varied – from relief for areas affected by natural disasters, helping to repair communities in the aftermath but also investing in construction technologies which will ensure buildings are more likely to survive future tragedy, to scholarships for underprivileged students to study in the USA for a four-year university degree. At the launch of this particular scheme she told reporters: “To be able to give the gift of an education is actually an honour. Higher education will help provide perspective, opportunities and learning to a group of kids who really deserve it. I am thrilled to be able to do this.” The methods of her charity – to not simply donate money but to proactively seek out solutions which mean charity will not be needed in the future – are as modern as her business practices.
For all she has done so far it would be easy to forget Rihanna is only 32 years old. The long list of achievements after her name, complemented by an even longer list of awards, is testament to her work ethic, determination and talent. The modern generation aspires more than any before it to multi-discipline success and Rihanna embodies this perfectly. She has built an empire that spans her many passions and has done it all with style, elegance and a social conscience that serves as an example to us all. Perhaps more than any of us, Robyn Fenty has earned the right to relax at the end of each day with a fine Cuban cigar.