Willow Perron |  The Montrealer who made Rihanna fly

About 119 million viewers watched the moment live: Rihanna has hit her biggest hits during the Super Bowl halftime show, sitting on a platform meters off the ground or strolling down a giant ramp. A creator from here, Montreal designer Willow Perron, owes the superstar to the concept of these scenes.

Willow Perron envisioned the visuals for Rihanna’s show with the intention of “breaking the norms of the halftime show.” Every year since the early 1990s, top music stars have taken over the show, which has become a major event in the entertainment world. “It’s important to do something that people haven’t seen before,” says Willow Perron, in an interview conducted through an exchange of emails amid the Los Angeles-based designer’s busy schedule.

Over the years now, Willow Perron has worked as an art director with Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, Drake, Florence + The Machine and Kanye West. He designs their stages, imagines the design of their albums, creates their advertising campaigns or redesigns their creative spaces… The brother of another well-known name in the business, Zébulon Perron, established for his role in Montreal, Willow is creating his role. Internationally renowned over the years. He received a notable award at the 2019 Grammy Awards (Best Album Cover Massacre St. Vincent).

Photo courtesy of Sam Mueller, Willow Berron

Willow Perron

The designer is a longtime collaborator of Rihanna. Since 2008, he has been involved in many of his projects. The company he co-founded with designer Brian Roettinger, Perron-Roettinger, has been featured on Rihanna’s tours since 2013, at a few shows for her underwear brand Savage x Fenty, at the 2015 Grammy Awards party (with Paul McCartney and Kanye West), and in 2016 Billboard Music Awards and some other same events.

Float Rihanna (And Dozens of Her Dancers)

For the Super Bowl halftime show in Arizona in mid-February, Willow Perron faced a big challenge. The time allotted for the service is very short (less than quarter of an hour) and it should be memorable.

He explains that the footage is spliced ​​together during about an eight-minute commercial break, and must be removed shortly.

“It was above all the issues related to space and reduced time,” says the Montreal designer. We had about half the space we had the year before. Because we were working on grass, we had a lot of weight limits on the pitch. We looked for alternatives to the scene where we had to roll. »

Photo by Adam Hunger, Associated Press Archives

Rihanna and her dancers during the Super Bowl halftime show

Above the lawn were not just one, but five floating platforms: one in the center, where Rihanna stood at the beginning and end of her performance, as well as three on each side, where her dancers accompanied her. Then, below, the main stage, bright red, was bordered by a long and wide arch, on which the singer moved with his dancers according to the performance.

It took about half a year to dream up the concept and bring it to life, Willow Perron tells us. “We always start with an inspiration board to decide how we want the show to look and what emotions we want to evoke. Once we have a more precise idea, I start seeding these ideas in all aspects of the show. »

The payoff of this long-term work: the most-watched halftime show in Super Bowl history since Katy Perry, marked the spirits with its star flying like diamonds in the sky.

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