Rihanna is just 23, but she’s come a long way since her 2005 debut, Music of the Sun. With five albums under her belt, and his sixth on the way, the young singer is a superstar … and is now recognized as a sex symbol.

The Barbados-born singer has just been named 2011’s “Sexiest Woman Alive” by Esquire magazine, and graces the cover of the mag’s November 2011 issue … in the nude.

Rihanna’s coverstory was done over several days in various settings, locations, and cities — including her Long Island performance in late July; backstage at a show in New Jersey; dinner in Santa Monica, California; and in her native country, Barbados.

During the time with the pop star, she revealed that she’s still a fan of Chris Brown, despite all the former couple went through in their tumultuous relationship.

“It’s incredible to see how he pulled out of it the way he did. Even when the world seemed like it was against him, you know?” says Rihanna. “I really like the music he’s putting out. I’m a fan of his stuff. I’ve always been a fan. Obviously, I had some resentment toward him for a while, for obvious reasons. But I’ve put that behind me. It was taking up too much of my time. It was too much anger. I’m really excited to see the breakthrough he’s had in his career. I would never wish anything horrible for him. Never. I never have.”

Read the full story at Esquire.com; and/or pick up the November issue, which hits newsstands later this week.