Issue: February/March 2013
Photographer: Zoe McConnell (@ZOEMCCONNELL)
Written By: Soo-Young Kim (@sooeypooey)
The catch was that she wanted to do seven covers, and I just didn't think it could happen.
Brent Rollins: "For Rihanna, this was her seventh record and a little bit of a victory lap for her. We had been wanting to get Rihanna on a cover for a while, and I think for various reasons it just had never happened. She's been on the cover of Complex before, but it had been a while and a lot happened in her career. The catch was that she wanted to do seven covers, and I just didn't think it could happen. The first thing that came to my mind was the seven deadly sins; how do you illustrate seven completely different things?
We didn't think we were going to get her for the amount of time it would take to do seven different covers and have seven different set-ups. They really wanted to do seven covers and at the same time keep it simple. We came up with selfies, since that is kind of her thing-her taking pictures of herself in seven different scenarios like with a Polaroid camera, a photo booth, or a cell phone camera. That was a way we could do seven different covers relatively easily.
What you see in magazines and online is what she actually looks like.
So we got on the phone with them and found out that Rihanna had her own very specific idea, and that was part of the deal. She was very specific that she wanted to present herself through her previous six albums, with the attitude of 'Unapologetic,' which is not necessarily an easy thing to do."
Gina Batlle: "It's not something that's easy to illustrate."
Brent Rollins: "It's her hair that's changed most drastically per look per album, but that was the thing we weren't touching. She has a short haircut, and that was going to be the only consistent part. She's not Madonna where she has this look or that look. She does have different looks, but they are not so extreme every time that you would not know per era.
This was an experience for me, because I'm not a 15-year-old girl, so I don't know Rihanna's looks throughout her career. Everyone changes their style and stuff, but it was fun doing a little bit of back history. I knew probably three looks before researching. Now that I look back on it, I think they did a really successful job in conveying her looks. The good thing is that it was a really simple shoot. We had her for two days. She's super beautiful."
Gina Batlle: "What you see in magazines and online is what she actually looks like. It's like, wow, you actually look like this. She is beautiful, which was cool to see. She was into it and really sweet."