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Rihanna is off to a rip roaring start for January 2010 with a nomination for the NAACP 4lst Image Awards due to air on Fox on February 26th in the category of Outstanding Female Artist.  She's in good company in that category with Alicia Keys, Mary J. Blige, Whitney Houston and India Arie being nominated too.

Mariel Haenn Rihanna Mary J Blige

The GQ cover is her domain with the first issue of 2010 featuring a racy photo shoot with Rihanna revealing her body on the front and baring her soul with her inside story.  She ruled the red carpet last year with a sultry yet sophisticated style.  This 21-year-old has had to grow up quickly but her sartorial image has been crafted with class.  Wonder who is responsible for that?

Stylists are the invisible stars that make celebrities sparkle.  They are masters of the wardrobe, hair and makeup.  They are rarely seen, but their artistry captivates us when our favorite celebrities dress up and step out.

Rihanna's  best dressed list victories for 2009 were due to the expertise of her wardrobe stylist.  The woman behind her fashion fire is Celebrity Stylist Mariel Haenn.  

The magic of Mariel is her fashion philosophy.  The music industry, which targets the youth demographic, is plagued with songs that are sexually explicit.  And there seems to be a belief that showing lots of skin is the only way into the musical consciousness of music consumers.  Mariel disagrees.  Rather than relying on Rihanna’s skimpy shirt and jean style, Mariel substituted style for skin.

Rihanna was a first-class lady with her new look in 2009 and we wonder if she now desires to be more risque in the new decade.  But that will be worked out between Rihanna and Mariel -- and both are aware that image is everything.  Mariel’s job is to select clothing that harmonizes with the physical body as well as the celebrity persona of the individual.  And although Rihanna was a sultry songstress Mariel saw no need to limit her look within cultural and age boundaries.

Rihanna’s, evolution, Muriel contends, was a natural progression that worked with the evolution of her music. Her goal, she says, was to get Rihanna beyond her baggy jean phase and  make her a little more cutting edge and sexy.  Mariel admits she is a stylist who like to “push the envelope.

The black and white cut-out Marchesa gown Rihanna wore to the American Music Awards a few months ago is a good example of pushing the envelope – people either loved it or hated it.  But what mattered is that Rihanna’s red carpet moment grabbed fashion attention and had folks waiting for what’s next.  That’s what stylists do – they keep us wanting more.  And Mariel is a master of that.

Mariel Haenn Jay-Z Mary J Blige

She counts Ciara, Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith, as well as Jay-Z, Sean “Diddy” Combs and Serena Williams, as clients and will most certainly be attracting more “A List” celebrities in the new decade.

Mariel, who graduated from the Art Institute in Miami, has been a fashion stylist for more than eight years and says she is influenced by Old Hollywood and runway shows.  As a stylist she has to choose complimentary colors for the skin tone of the individual and determine the difference between sexy and sleazy.  Creating a balanced look incorporating clothes, shoes and accessories and adding hair and makeup to list for a total look takes talent and street shopping smarts.

Although now Rihanna is now a darling of high-end fashion designers, Mariel insists that the recession affected the way she styles. "...I work with every price range of clothes but not necessarily all high end," she says. Mariel isn’t above going to Forever 21 and other fashion seekers favorite budget haunts.

It has taken almost five years for Mariel to develop Rihanna’s spotlight style and she suggests that to develop your own personal style you go about it the old fashioned way – research.  Look through magazines, she suggests, and get a good sense of the look that will best compliment your body and the image you want to convey.

Rihanna is in the running for’s “Best Dressed of the Decade”  and by January 25, 2010 you’ll know the results. But right now what we all know for sure is that Mariel Haenn is a style winner, period.


Photos Courtesy:

Written by Francesca Simon
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