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Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show: behind the scenes of the stage design
2023/06/30

(Image credit: John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)

BY ROSA BERTOLI

PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 14, 2023

Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show was one of the most anticipated musical events of the year so far. On 12 February 2023, the Barbadian singer appeared on a platform floating over the State Farm Stadium, her dancers similarly suspended around her; below stood an oblong red stage, which became the centre of the 13-minute musical pyrotechnics. 

The stage was conceived by Canadian, California-based designer Willo Perron, co-founder of design studio Perron-Roettinger and a regular creator of showpieces for the likes of Lady Gaga, Kanye West and Drake. Perron's collaboration with Rihanna started in 2008 and has included set design for her Savage x Fenty shows, as well as stage design for her concerts. 'At this point, we are pretty well acclimated; there's a lot of freedom to start and stop ideas,' says Perron of the collaboration.

Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show: Willo Perron on the stage design

(Image credit: Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Says Perron of the Super Bowl halftime show stage design: 'The main stage is this UV red with safety orange staging – I thought it would be nice to do something that's brutally present and explodes. The flying platforms are all chrome which is great for picking up light – I wanted this to feel almost like a contemporary furniture piece.'

(Image credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The design was informed by the location and event, but took cues from a larger pool of visual references: 'I thought about the audience for this – obviously a lot of Rihanna fans, and then America's football fans,' continues Perron. 'I wanted the materiality and colour scheme to employ a sort of American vernacular by means of transport: chrome reflecting the bumpers on vehicles, red and orange schematics representing iridescent roadway signage.'

(Image credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The red visual theme was echoed in the costumes, which included a flight-inspired suit by Loewe's creative director Jonathan Anderson and custom Alaïa coats by Pieter Mulier. Meanwhile, the stage was wheeled onto the pitch and assembled at record speed.

'We had to reverse-engineer the performance in order to work within the limitations of the stadium and timing, to load everything in during a seven-minute commercial break,' explains Perron. 'I had to start with what possibilities were available within the limitations, which in turn informed the design and ultimately [Rihanna's] energy.'

(Image credit: Adam Bow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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