Rihanna was among the style-centric honorees Monday at the annual Council of Fashion Designers of America awards, which also honor the year's top designers.
The 26-year-old singer, an undisputed fashion star of the moment, was being handed the group's 2014 Fashion Icon Award. Previous honorees have been Lady Gaga, Kate Moss, Nicole Kidman and Johnny Depp.
Also being honored at the glamorous ceremony at New York's Lincoln Center was designer Tom Ford, who was getting the CFDA's lifetime achievement award. The prestigious Founder's Award was going to Bethann Hardison, a former model and modeling agent who has been a vocal champion for diversity on runways.
Winners were being announced at the ceremony, hosted by director and screenwriter John Waters, in categories including womenswear, menswear and accessories. The group's international award was going to Raf Simons, of Dior.
The annual show draws a mix of fashion insiders and Hollywood, and this year, Rihanna was clearly the big name, along with an even newer fashion star: Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o ("12 Years a Slave" and also newly cast in the next "Star Wars" film), who was expected to present a major award.
Speaking of Rihanna before the show, designer Zac Posen called the pop star a fashion risk-taker, who skillfully melds red-carpet glamour with a rebellious streak.
"She takes risks and she marches to her own drum and she knows what she likes," Posen told The Associated Press in an interview. "It's been an incredible journey." He recalled meeting the singer at his studio before she launched her first album.
"She was a fashion world novice then," he said, "but obviously she had looks and confidence and little-girl charm. All the ingredients were there for her to be a huge superstar: ambition, strength, and also vulnerability." Rihanna's occasional use of shock value, he said, "has kept her current, and balanced how classically beautiful she is."
Rihanna also has a great appreciation for designers, Posen added: "That's why people love to dress her."