We wondered whether the "denim shorts" were airbrushed on, cut from jeggings or made in Photoshop. The truth is far more sinister, as Fashionista reports:

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The magic booty "shorts" are actually "metal mesh shorts" according to the credits (Rihanna tweeted that they were "chain mail"), custom made by Michael Schmidt Studios for the shoot's stylist, B. Akerlund.

Well okay then! Perhaps next we can tackle the mystery of when the music mag will feature a male singer posing with his ass hanging out.

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Rihanna's Stylist on Her Rolling Stone Cover: "If Rihanna and Kid Rock Had a Baby…" [Fashionista]

Related: Rihanna Opens Up Like Never Before in Rolling Stone Cover Story [Rolling Stone]