Rihanna has already proven she's going above and beyond for fans at her Anti tour, but on Saturday night (Mar. 26) in Hartford, Connecticut, she invited a fan backstage because her outfit was so good.
That lucky fan would be Emily Graily, who caught Rihanna's attention with her recreation of Rih's iconic Giambattista Valli Grammys dress and light-up Rhenna mask. MTV News spoke to Emily about the dress, Rihanna's reaction to her outfit and mask, and more.
MTV: Hi! Congratulations on meeting Rihanna and making it onto her Instagram! Can you tell me a little bit about why you decided to dress up and why you chose to recreate her Grammys look?
Emily Graily: Sure. So a few years ago, I started doing VIP packages for Lady Gaga and I noticed all of her fans dress up — if you’re not dressed up at a Lady Gaga concert, there’s no point in going. So after I went to my first one, I dressed up as the "Telephone" couple with my friend -- she was Beyoncé, and I was Gaga -- and I was like, I have to start doing this for every concert.
So I went to a Katy Perry one and I went to a Rihanna one before and I dressed up as her Halloween Weed Bride costume, and so I’ve been waiting for her new tour for the past few years, and as soon as tickets went on sale, I was like, I’ve got to start thinking of what I’m going to wear now. I was like, what’s iconic Rihanna and what will get the most attention? So I immediately thought of the Grammys dress — it’s huge and it’s bright pink. And then I thought of her Instagram cartoon she’s had for so many years — it’s so cute, it’s so her. I had to recreate it.
MTV: The dress was amazing. I saw on Instagram that you are majoring in costume design?
Graily: Yeah, I’m currently at senior at UC Santa Cruz and majoring in costume designing.
MTV: Wow, yeah. That’s perfect. It must come in handy. How long did the dress take you?
Graily: It took me surprisingly not that long. It took me maybe like a week on and off to make.
MTV: And what’s it made of, tulle?
Graily: It’s made out of crinoline — it’s like a petticoat fabric.
MTV: Oh, got it. How was wearing it the whole night?
Graily: (laughs) I was more concerned for everyone around me. Everyone was sitting on it and stepping on it, and I was like, "No, no it’s totally OK!"
MTV: I remember when she was at the Grammys, there were photos of her taking up like three chairs, so you were having an accurate experience! How did you nab front-row tickets?
Graily: So I live in California and had been saving up money for like two years to buy front-row VIP passes. As soon as they went on sale, I was trying to get San Jose and Oakland, and they were all sold out, so the only one left was Hartford, Connecticut, so I was like, I’ll take the trip. I want to be front row. I love her so much.
MTV: Wow, yeah. That’s dedication. So do VIP passes come with a meet-and-greet, or did Rihanna just see you from the stage?
Graily: She doesn’t do meet-and-greets anymore, but if you buy the ticket through VIP Nation, you get two passes that allow you to get into a VIP party, so you all get to hang out together, listen to her music, and have food and drinks before the concert starts. During that was the time that my Instagram photo started getting noticed. Someone was like, "Oh, the guy who met her last week, his Instagram handle is RihannasHusband, he tweeted about your photo." After that, it blew up. And then she followed me while I was at the pre-party and I was like, well now that she’s following me I’ve got to keep posting pictures.
During the concert, she came from behind the arena and she did her whole catwalk to the front of the stage. As soon as she got to the middle, she pointed me out and winked at me, and I was like, OK, it’s going down.
MTV: Wow, I think I’d die.
Graily: (laughs) Yeah, so after the show, when she was doing her bows, I mouthed, "I love you, you’re the best." And she mouthed, "I love you too, I love all of this," referring to my costume — and then she was like, "I got you." And then she just left.
So I was like, OK, someone has to be coming to get me. A few minutes pass, and all the crew is trying to get me to leave, and I was like, there’s no way I’m leaving — I know that someone is going to come get me. And they were like, "No, you’ve got to leave now."
So I was sad, walking up the stairs, and her hairstylist stopped me and was like, "Whoa, whoa, stop stop. Let me get a few pictures of you." So he takes some photos and he’s like, "I’ve got to show this to Rihanna. She wants to meet you backstage." So he goes and gets me again and is like, "OK, yeah, come with me."
She comes out and greets people she knew and then she comes and hugs me and is like, "Oh my gosh, I love this. This is so creative. I can’t believe you even thought of doing this. How did you even make this?" So I told her if you turn the Rhenna mask around, you see it’s just cardboard attached to sunglasses, and she was so amused.
She kept complimenting me -- she was so nice! -- even after a whole show, and she smelled amazing. She looked airbrushed. It was incredible. She wanted to try the mask on, so she tried it on, and then I did, and we took photos together.
MTV: Yeah, those are like the greatest photos I’ve ever seen. She looked so happy to be trying on the mask!
Graily: Yeah, she was saying that now that I’ve started this trend, everyone is going to want to dress up.
MTV: I’m sure. What was the response when on social media when she posted that photo? It must’ve been insane.
Graily: Yeah, after that, all of these people DMed me asking how I got to go backstage and what the mask is made of so they can recreate it. I’ve also gotten a lot of requests asking to post photos of people since she follows me now.
MTV: Wow, that’s so awesome that she follows you now. Are you seeing her again this tour?
Graily: I’m going to the San Jose date in May, but I’m not going to be as close. Still, now I feel like I’ve got to recreate something. My plan is to recreate all of her Anti tour looks as the cartoon character.
MTV: Yeah, and there are so many Rhenna faces for you to use! My coworkers and I actually dressed up as her for Halloween.
Graily: Yeah, I’ve gotten so many Instagram comments, like, "I know what I’m going to be for Halloween this year."