Rihanna’s pregnancy fashion could change future maternity clothes

Rihanna fans wanted a new album, but instead they get a fashion revolution photo album. The singer and entrepreneur, who is expecting her first child with A$AP Rocky, is defying maternity wear conventions and sparking a “Fenty Effect” when it comes to pregnancy style.

No, Rihanna is not compiling a new photo book, like the the one she released in 2019. But she definitely cataloged her nonconforming, trendy pregnancy style on social media — and it all started with the initial baby announcement. She and A$AP Rocky posed for photographer Miles Diggs’ lens under a West Harlem overpass. Despite the freezing and snowy New York day, Rihanna exposed her baby bump between the folds of a Chanel coat while kissing Rocky to confirm they were soon to be parents.

This smart pregnancy reveal — and the fashion that went with it — created the same groundbreaking buzz of her previous work. Rihanna’s launch Fenty beauty line sparked a “Fenty effect” forcing other cosmetics brands to incorporate inclusive makeup shades into their range and she Wild X Fenty lingerie collection has inspired other designers to consider inclusiveness in their sizing.

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As photographers constantly capture the 34-year-old (and her accompanying baby bump) on red carpets, fashion weeks and Magazine coversshe continues to push the boundaries when it comes to maternity clothes and it’s gaining momentum.

Rihanna said Entertainment in March while wearing a custom silver Coeperni outfit, “I’m not going to buy maternity clothes.” Her May vogue cover accompanied a photo shoot of the star wearing shoes by Jean Paul Gaultier, Marc Jacobs and Manolo Blahnik, among others.

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“When I found out I was pregnant, I thought, ‘There’s no way I’m going shopping in the maternity aisle,'” she told the magazine. “I’m sorry, it’s too much fun to dress up.”

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The star stayed true to her word: no blouses, tent dresses or elasticated denim in sight.

“What Rihanna is doing right now is just amazing,” said Ariane Goldman, founder and CEO of maternity fashion brand Hatch said. “It’s pretty bold and fierce and empowering that she just shakes her belly and dresses around the bump.”

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Shortly after the pregnancy announcement, more photos of Rihanna in the babywearing era began to appear. Paparazzi style photo featured Rihanna in an all-black outfit with a lace-up Jean Paul Gaultier top as the focal point.

Shortly after, the singer posted another photo of herself captured in denim and leopard print, completed with a Roberto Cavalli jacket. Rihanna’s choice in vulnerable low rise jeans showed off her midriff and was highlighted by an open panel shirt.

In the past, celebrity high fashion approaches to pregnancy have been harshly criticized. Kim Kardashian was seen wearing Tom Ford, Mugler and Donna Karan while pregnant with her first-born North West in 2013 but looks were rarely praised. Kardashian’s Met Gala debut was widely dismissed as a fashion faux pas after she arrived in a figure-hugging Givenchy dress. She recalled in a tweet from 2019 how after the gala she “went home and cried…insecure”.

Amy Odell, fashion journalist and author of the upcoming “ANNA: The Biography,” says Rihanna’s pregnancy looks are “remarkable and exciting” in part because “we’ve been missing them for a while” amid the pandemic events, runways and red carpets closed due to the pandemic.

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“It’s really exciting to see someone like Rihanna who is in this joyful moment of her life, being incredibly fashionable (and) being out there,” Odell said.

But White, Gucci and Dior not known for her wardrobe capsules aimed at expectant parents, Rihanna always wore the pieces from the fashion houses around her baby bump for fashion week.

Rihanna and Rocky attended the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week wear pieces personalized by the label. Rihanna’s look included a silver headpiece, low-rise satin pants with a dragon on the side, and a lace and latex crop top, giving her future offspring an uninterrupted view of a high fashion runway.

Rihanna had no problem wearing designer pieces to Milan and Paris Fashion Week, she just dressed around the bump instead of hiding it.

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She followed at Paris Fashion Week with a fur jacket and pink leather dress from Off-White for the design house’s show. But it was her Dior runway look who really turned heads when she showed it all in a sheer tulle Dior gown, wearing nothing but Savage X Fenty underneath.

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“For me, this dress is actually the closest thing to maternity clothes I’ve worn so far,” Rihanna told Vogue in the May cover story.

Rihanna turned heads as she attended the Dior show during Paris Fashion Week wearing sheer tulle and Savage X Fenty lingerie.

The influence of Rihanna’s maternity fashion

Despite Rihanna’s comparison of see-through Dior to maternity clothes, journalist and author Odell says she’d be “surprised” if luxury houses started dipping a toe into the motherhood department.

“I think luxury maternity clothes are probably a tough proposition for companies because you don’t wear them for as long,” Odell says. “But I think what Rihanna does is likely to influence how other celebrities approach fashion when they’re pregnant.”

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“Doll Face” Star Shay Mitchell also feels empowered and embraces her bump as she is pregnant with her second baby. On Instagram, she often poses with crop tops, low rise jeans, feather blazers and Burberry sets.

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But influencer doesn’t just influence celebrity moms. Goldman, which launched Hatch in 2011 to create more “fashionable” clothes for expectant parents, has also seen a shift in maternity fashion for the everyday consumer.

“If you asked me years ago would I incorporate crop tops into the Hatch Collections offering, I would say ‘you’re crazy,’” Goldman said. “We started designing them, just to see where the trend was going…and we can’t keep them in stock. So clearly the trend is changing.”

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While this fashion moment for Rihanna will end with the arrival of a baby, she hopes a change in society’s attitude around pregnancy will last much longer.

“I hope we were able to redefine what is considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women,” she told Vogue. “My body is doing amazing things right now, and I’m not going to be ashamed of it. This time, I should feel celebratory. Because why should you hide your pregnancy?”

Elizabeth J. Harless