Rihanna’s fans were longing for a new album, but are getting a photo album in the fashion revolution instead. The singer and entrepreneur, expecting her first child with A $ AP Rocky, is defying the conventions of maternity wear and igniting a “Fenty effect” when it comes to pregnancy style.
No, Rihanna isn’t actually compiling a new photo book, like the one she posted in 2019. But she definitely cataloged her nonconforming, high fashion pregnancy style on social media – and it all started with the initial announcement of the child. She and A $ AP Rocky posed in front of photographer Miles Diggs’s lens under a West Harlem viaduct. Despite the freezing and snowy day in New York City, Rihanna exposed her baby bump in the folds of a Chanel coat as she hugged Rocky to confirm that they would soon be her parents.
This clever revelation of pregnancy – and the fashion that accompanied it – created the same groundbreaking buzz as her previous work. The launch of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line triggered a “Fenty effect” by causing other cosmetic brands to incorporate inclusive makeup shades into their range and her Savage X Fenty lingerie collection has spurred other designers to consider inclusivity in their sizing. .
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As photographers consistently capture the 34-year-old (and her accompanying baby tummy) on red carpets, fashion weeks, and magazine covers, she continues to push the boundaries when it comes to maternity wear and is catching on.
Rihanna told Bustle in March while wearing a custom silver Coeperni dress: “I’m not going to buy maternity clothes.” Her May Vogue cover story 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 to myself, ‘I’m not going to go shopping in any 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 aprons, curtain dresses, or jeans with rubber bands in sight.
“What Rihanna is doing right now is just incredible,” says Ariane Goldman, founder and CEO of Hatch maternity fashion label. “It’s pretty bold, ferocious and enabling that she’s just rocking her belly and somehow dressing around the bump.”
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Shortly after the pregnancy was announced, more photos of Rihanna in the age of childbirth began to emerge. A paparazzi shot showed Rihanna in an all-black ensemble with a lace-up Jean Paul Gaultier top as the focal point.
Soon after, the singer posted another shot of herself captured in denim and leopard print, finished with a Roberto Cavalli jacket. Rihanna’s choice in low-rise vulnerable jeans showed off her tummy and was further highlighted by an open panel tee.
In the past, celebrities’ high fashion approaches to pregnancy have been met with harsh criticism. Kim Kardashian was seen wearing Tom Ford, Mugler, and Donna Karan during her pregnancy with firstborn North West in 2013, but her looks have rarely been praised. Kardashian’s debut at the Met Gala was widely labeled a fashion misstep after arriving in a fitted Givenchy dress. She remembered in a tweet of 2019 as after the gala “she went home and cried … of insecurity”.
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 her for a while” as the pandemic brought events to a close, catwalks and red carpets due to the pandemic.
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“It’s really exciting to see someone like Rihanna being in this joyous time in her life, being incredibly trendy (and) out there,” says Odell.
Although Off-White, Gucci and Dior are not known for wardrobe capsules designed for expectant parents, Rihanna still wore the pieces of the fashion houses around her baby bump for fashion week.
Rihanna and Rocky attended the Gucci show during Milan Fashion Week wearing custom pieces from the label. Rihanna’s look included a silver headpiece, low-rise satin pants with a dragon on the side, and a mixed lace and latex crop top, giving her future offspring an uninterrupted vision of a high fashion runway.
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She followed the Paris fashion week with a fur jacket and a pink Off-White leather dress for the fashion show. But it was her look of hers for the Dior fashion show that really made her head spin when she flaunted it all in a sheer tulle Dior dress, with just Savage X Fenty underneath her.
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“To me that dress is actually the closest thing to maternity clothes I’ve worn so far,” Rihanna told Vogue in the May cover story.
The influence of Rihanna’s maternity fashion
Despite Rihanna’s confrontation between transparent Dior and maternity wear, journalist and author Odell says she would be “surprised” if luxury homes started struggling with the maternity ward.
“I think luxury maternity wear is probably a challenging proposition for companies because you don’t wear it for that long,” says Odell. “But I think what Rihanna is doing is likely to influence how other celebrities approach fashion when they are pregnant.”
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“Dollface” star Shay Mitchell also feels empowered and hugs her baby bump while pregnant with her second child. On Instagram she often poses with cropped tops, low-rise jeans, feathered blazers and Burberry sets.
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But the flu isn’t just the influence of famous moms. Goldman, which started Hatch in 2011 to create more “trendy” clothes for expectant parents, has also seen a shift in maternity fashion for the everyday consumer.
“If you had asked me years ago, I would have incorporated short tops into the Hatch collections offering, I’d say ‘you’re out of your mind,'” says Goldman. “We started designing them, just seeing where the trend was happening … and we can’t keep them in stock. So clearly the trend is changing.”
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Although this fashion moment for Rihanna will end with the arrival of the baby, she hopes that a change in society’s attitude towards pregnancy will last much longer.
“I hope we’ve been able to redefine what’s considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women,” she told Vogue. “My body is doing amazing things right now and I won’t be ashamed of it. This time you should feel celebratory Why should you hide your pregnancy?