Harper’s Bazaar China declares Rihanna the new “King of Pop,” fans divided

(Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images)

If being flawless was an Olympic sport, Rihanna would surely be a gold medalist, but does that mean it’s time to officially crown her the queen (or king) of pop music?

Tuesday, the fashion forward mogul shared pictures on her Instagram from her new cover shoot for Harper’s Bazaar China‘s August issue. In it, the singer is seen rocking gorgeous, colorful avant-garde reimaginings of traditional Chinese ensembles.

And in another Instagram post from the magazine’s account describing the shoot, the team behind the spread explains the cover is all about, “when Western style icon meets Eastern aesthetic.”

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“There is always a brave truthfulness on Rihanna” reads the Harper’s Bazaar China post. “She doesn’t care about judgments from others, justing keep in doing what she loves. After four years, Rihanna is back to be our cover star and again shows when western style icon meets eastern aesthetic.”

In another IG post the magazine writes, “Being born in Barbados, Rihanna has worked her way up from “nobody” to “somebody”with her musical talents. She is now a role model for girls all over the world, and she is even the ”king of pop”. Stay tuned for our August Issue.”

While excitement over new Rihanna fashion spreads is always feverish, the characterization of her in the second caption was received a little less than favorably by some fans. Some vocally objected to the 31-year-old being called the “King of Pop,” a moniker the late Michael Jackson spent most of his career earning, and others like singer Erykah Badu even slipped into the comments section to clarify, “She was always somebody.”

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Questionable captions aside, despite the stunning quality of the pictures, some Asian fans have pointed out that this appears to be a case of cultural appropriation that is being ignored due to the singer’s star power.

According to Bustle, “In the image, the actor, singer, and beauty and fashion mogul is wearing a vibrant blue, deep sweetheart neck gown with billowing sleeves. Just above her natural waist, she’s wearing a bright red sash with a glittering silver tassel. Her hair is up in an elaborate updo with fans strategically placed along the coif, seemingly meant to invoke traditional Chinese hairstyles.”

This all begs the question, where is the line between high fashion appreciation and good ole fashioned appropriation? Can something be a combination of both?

Check out the images below and decide for yourself.

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