The US publication IndieWire confirmed rumours, first reported by TMZ, that Depp would be a featured surprise guest in the fashion show, which streams on Amazon Prime Video on 9 November.
Depp’s participation will reportedly be in the vein of Cindy Crawford’s appearance in the 2021 Savage X Fenty showcase. He will become the first man to take the featured “star” role modelling the brand’s men’s collection.
He will appear in the show alongside models Cara Delevingne and Irina Shayk, actors Taraji P Henson, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Winston Duke and Marsai Martin, and musical performers Anitta and Burna Boy.
Rihanna fans expressed dismay online that she would feature Depp in the show given his ex-wife Amber Heard’s allegations that he was violent towards her, and the pop star’s personal history with domestic violence.
In March 2021, Depp lost a libel case in the UK after he sued the Sun for calling him a “wife-beater”.
In June 2022 he won his defamation case in the US against Heard and was awarded $15m (£12m) in compensatory and punitive damages. The court found that Heard could not substantiate allegations of domestic violence. However, Heard won one of three counter-claims against Depp and was awarded $2m in compensatory damages.
In 2009, Rihanna was the victim of a violent attack by her then-boyfriend, R&B star Chris Brown. He pleaded guilty and received five years of probation.
Depp’s appearance in the Savage X Fenty show is the latest instance of the once-disgraced actor being rehabilitated by the entertainment industry. In August, he made a surprise appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards, playing the channel’s Moon Man mascot.
Floating above the stage in a projection, Depp delivered one-liners in between commercial breaks. “I needed the work,” he announced, as the annual ceremony opened.
That month it was also announced that Depp would direct a biopic of the Italian painter Amedeo Modigliani.
Savage X Fenty and the beauty brand Fenty Beauty have been Rihanna’s main creative focus in recent years, making her a certified billionaire.
She recently returned to pop with Lift Me Up, a new song recorded for the soundtrack of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, her first new music in six years.
In February, she will perform at the Super Bowl half-time show. No details of her highly anticipated ninth album have been announced.
The Guardian has contacted Rihanna’s representatives for fashion and music for comment.