Recalling the photo shoot, CR editor in chief and founder Carine Roitfeld says she and Richardson traveled to London to photograph Rihanna the day after the pop star had performed in Manchester.
"She's so funny to work with, we had a lot of fun," Roitfeld says, adding that Rihanna fully embraced the concept, loving the idea that the French queen had been, like herself, a trend setter unafraid to take fashion risks.
"Marie Antoinette was possibly the first trendsetter. She launched fashion trends -- maybe sometimes ridiculous ones, like a boat on your hair -- before she became, finally, the first fashion victim too, no?" remarks Roitfeld.
Reinventing an icon
Styled by Roitfeld, Rihanna channels a libertine Marie Antoinette on one cover, provocatively grasping one breast while wearing a pink Dior jacket complemented by the brand's latest fine jewelry collection, which was inspired by the décor of the Palace of Versailles. (Rihanna is one of the official faces of Dior.)
On the other, she's dressed in an alluring outfit by Dilara Findikoglu.
"Rihanna was very, very happy to wear a very young, almost unknown designer on one of the covers, because she's been very supportive of emerging designers" says Roitfeld.
Roitfeld explains the 384-page edition of CR Fashion Book was not conceived as a retrospective of the late queen's life, but as a contemporary interpretation of "if Marie Antoinette was here today," with all the frivolity, drama and excess.
She imagined Marie Antoinette going to Studio 54 (an unrecognizable Joan Small covered in glitter makeup, shot by Mario Sorrenti); as a young African queen (Willow Smith with face tattoos, photographed by Bruce Weber); and a rock 'n' roll version (Sasha Pivovarova, shot by Rory van Millingen and Brigitte Niedermair).
"I think it's a very funny issue and it's my favorite," Roitfeld muses.
Meanwhile, the accompanying men's issue looks at the social dynamics in male-female relationships, and is dedicated to Roitfeld's lifelong partner, Christian Restoin.
"He doesn't know it yet. It's going to be a complete surprise when he sees his picture inside. Maybe he's going to be furious, I don't know," she says, sounding mildly concerned by the prospect.
"He has always been the one who gave me the best ideas when I was working at French Vogue. He's been a very supportive person, and this is my thank you to him for helping me so much. People tell me I have good taste, but he has better taste than me!"