The same day she released a button-pushing video for “We Found Love,” Rihanna has reportedly settled a lawsuit with fashion photographer David LaChapelle over last year’s “S&M” video. LaChapelle found the Barbadian singer’s provocative clip very similar in theme and style to eight of his previous photo shoots. The combination of her sexual poses, the high-contrast lighting, and usage of kinky props in last year’s clip, he alleged, were “directly derived” from his own body of work for Vogue Italia, including 1995’s “Striped Farce” editorial and 2002’s “Latex” shoot. Earlier this year, he sued the singer and her label, Def Jam, asking for $1 million in damages. As of today, Jaret Keller, LaChapelle’s publicist, confirms a resolution has been reached out of court. He told BBC News that the photographer is “happy with the settlement.”
LaChapelle has gained notoriety as a pop fantasist, a photographer who portrays his subjects in extreme aesthetic situations, often with surreal circumstances and overt sexual overtones. Aside from his catalogue of fashion editorials, LaChapelle has worked with many singers including Lady Gaga, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Courtney Love – and Rihanna. “I like RiRi,” LaChapelle said when he filed the suit. “This is not personal, it’s strictly business. Musicians commonly pay to sample music or use someone’s beats and there should be no difference when sampling an artist’s visuals.”
Rihanna’s “S&M,” a spiky tribute to lascivious bedroom antics, encountered its fair share of hurdles on the way to becoming a smash. It was censored by radio in the USA, renamed “Come On” in the U.K., and had its video banned in 11 countries. Shortly after LaChapelle filed his suit, another photographer claimed the clip ripped off his aesthetic. Despite its controversy, “S &M” went on to hit Number One on the Billboard Hot 100, and enter Top Five around the world.