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RiRi is rewriting the rules.
When it comes to maternity style, Rihanna is not here to play by any prescribed set of rules. And are we surprised? After all, this is the woman who announced her pregnancy on January 31 with a street style photoshoot in which she rocked vintage Chanel and a bejewelled baby bump. The viral pictures of Rihanna and her partner A$AP Rocky were a foreshadowing of the jaw-dropping pregnancy style to come.
And come it has! All of RiRi’s looks have accentuated her baby bump as an accessory that complements her self-expression. It seems that for the fashion killa herself, pregnancy is a welcome style challenge.
If Rihanna is any indication, we’ve officially entered a new era where dressing for pregnancy doesn’t mean you can’t dress for yourself. Here’s a rundown of the mogul’s latest street style ensembles (plus, how her wardrobe plays into the evolution of maternity fashion).
Cue the cut-outs
The singer was spotted out and about in Los Angeles on February 6 looking fly as ever in an all-black hooded outfit. Sporting sunglasses, a zip-up jacket by Carhartt x Wardrobe.NYC and ribbed leggings by The Attico, the look was under the radar but made a statement nonetheless. The main attraction, of course, was the Jean Paul Gaultier lace-up cardigan baring her baby belly (expect to see more of this pregnancy style from Rihanna).
Can we get some commotion for the coat? On February 9, the beauty mogul stepped out in a fabulously over-the-top vintage Roberto Cavalli patchwork coat with denim, leopard print and fur. She paired it with a fur-trimmed front-tie crop top (of course) and low-rise baggy jeans. The Y2K-reminiscent look was completed with a Dior tie-dye saddle bag, a camo trucker hat from Awake NY and plenty of gold body jewelry. Not to mention, snakeskin Tom Ford heels strapped over her jeans. It’s a look for the fashion history books, right alongside the iconic heart-shaped Saint Laurent fur coat she wore in 2016.
A slinky set
Businesswoman that she is, Rihanna attended a Fenty Beauty x Fenty Skin event on February 12. Wearing a custom top and pant set by The Attico, the ensemble’s green drape square sequins sit perfectly over her budding baby bump. As for accessories, we’re talking diamonds (and lots of them) — including Chopard diamond drop earrings and a gold and diamond body chain by Jacquie Aiche. A$AP Rocky was also there, admiring her pregnant glow just like the rest of us.
RiRi in red
Savage X Fenty, Rihanna’s lingerie brand, is opening physical stores across the U.S. And on February 12, she rolled up to the retailer’s LA store opening in another monochromatic moment. Rihanna wore a long, custom Alaïa red leather hooded dress with colour-coordinating Amina Muaddi heels and matching red eyeliner. Honourable mention to A$AP Rocky, who donned a sparkling suit and red Prada sneakers to match the mom-to-be.
Sheer for the Super Bowl
On Super Bowl Sunday, Rihanna showed support for the Los Angeles Rams in a navy blue bomber jacket with yellow faux-fur trim by Balenciaga. She paired the look with a blue headscarf, a sheer tulle button-up by Jetpack hom(m)e and baggy straight-cut jeans. Along with her belly-grazing body chains, she accessorized with several medallions and rings by Briony Raymond.
The star’s viral form-fitting, skin-baring ensembles feel like a fresh take on pregnancy style, and we’d expect nothing less from Rihanna. But while she is a fashion risk-taker in her own right, the evolution of maternity wear has been underway for centuries. From styles that were intended to hide baby bumps to flowy garments to eschewing maternity designs altogether, there’s a long fashion history when it comes to those who are expecting. So how did we get here?
In an interview, fashion historian Kass McGann told historical fashion YouTuber V. Birchwood that before the modern era, all women’s clothes were maternity clothes. Because clothing took so long to make (we’re talking four years for a shirt), it wasn’t efficient to have pieces made specifically for pregnancy.
According to Elle, it wasn’t until the early 14th century that specific designs were introduced to make clothing more pregnancy-friendly. In the following centuries, adjustable garments like aprons and lace-up panels were added to women’s clothing to accommodate a growing baby bump.
But then, styles became more restrictive. In the 1700s, corsets came into style, and it was common for women to wear them while pregnant. In fact, maternity corsets were a mainstay well into the 1900s.
In the following decades, women’s clothing designs were flowy and doubled as maternity wear that covered and concealed baby bumps. It wasn’t until the 1950s that fashion began to lean into maternity wear, and in the decades that followed, maternity designs included tent dresses and empire waistlines.
In the 1990s, baby bumps were (finally) more normalized, thanks in part to celebrity influence. When a pregnant Demi Moore was featured on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, the controversial release arguably revolutionized how pregnant people were regarded in North American society.
From the ‘90s into the early aughts, designers began to celebrate pregnancy, and more celebrities stepped out in form-fitting maternity wear, like Jada Pinkett Smith at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards in 1998. At this time, expecting celebs wore crop tops, body con silhouettes and babydoll dresses.
Over the past two decades, we’ve seen plenty of statement-making maternity looks — Kim Kardashian’s 2013 Met Gala floral Givenchy number and Emily Ratajkowski’s unbuttoned street-style outing in 2020 come to mind.
Of course, no celebrity’s fashion-forward pregnancy look comes without a little scrutiny from the public. But as we look back at history, there’s no doubt we’ve come a long way. In 2022, it seems we’re entering the age of personalized pregnancy style. Lead the way, Rihanna.