Is personal style an art? In the case of Rihanna, she who has redefined what modern pop Icon–dom looks like, the answer is a resounding yes. And as her candid shoot in the December issue of ELLE reveals, her ongoing project is one in a constant, glorious state of flux—peeling back creative layers and pushing boundaries (both her own and ours).

Here’s music’s most massive star as we’ve never seen her before—all dressed up in fall couture, but boldly stripped down. Introducing the real Rihanna: strong, uncompromising, and radically beautiful.

The full Rihanna feature can be found exclusively in ELLE’s December issue, available digitally and on newsstands in select cities starting November 11, and nationwide on November 18. Until then, here is a sneak peek at Robbie Myers’ editor’s letter and an excerpt from Rihanna’s Q&A with ELLE. Make sure to pick up the issue to find out what Rihanna said about having kids, what she treasures most, what question provoked the response, “HELL NO!”

Bustier and gown by Atelier Versace. Tights by Wolford. Hook earring by Hirotaka. White gold, diamond, ruby, sapphire, and black diamond earring by Ileana Makri. Black gold and black diamond earring by Colette.

Story Credit: Elle.com
Photo Credit: Paola Kudacki for ELLE