Rhode Island School of Design graduate Mel Ottenberg is having a moment. In addition to serving as fashion director of Berlin’s 032c magazine and lending his touch to an array of editorial, runway, and advertising projects, the 38-year-old stylist is credited with shaping Rihanna’s look since her “Loud” tour in 2011. His work has paid off. Just last week the 26-year-old beauty walked away with this year’s CFDA Fashion Icon Award.
And she didn’t just walk, she sparkled.
Rihanna’s sheer, shimmering Swarovski-coated gown was the talk of the night, and we may step on thin ice for saying this, but it shined a light on an award show typically only on the radar of industry insiders. For stylists like Ottenberg, this is what the career path is all about, creating a moment that can last a lifetime. Ottenberg chatted with us from his hotel room in Paris.
We need to talk about Rihanna’s CFDA Awards dress.
I’m thrilled. I went to Paris like right after, like a few hours after the awards. I went out to dinner, then got on a plane in the middle of the night. So I sort of missed a lot of it, but I’m still getting so many e-mails and phone calls. It’s great. I love it.
You have such a crucial role in shaping Rihanna’s style. What has that been like for you?
I mean it has been a process of just teamwork and collaborating with Rihanna, but also with the hair and makeup and the designer and with our different teams. It’s just been really fun to watch it evolve. I would almost say every time we have a great success together, it just gives you more drive to make the next one really amazing, too.