It may sound dramatic, but the Monday in January when those photos were released, the ones of Rihanna’s baby bump draped in jewels and peeking out of a neon pink 1996 Chanel puffer, felt like the first time that the world collectively experienced joy in two years. Rihanna and A$AP Rocky’s pregnancy announcement came at a time when we needed it most, a dose of lighthearted, celebrity-fueled excitement to brighten one of the bleakest winters in recent memory.
For days, Instagram feeds were merely an endless stream of the same pictures of the gorgeous couple, snapped by photographer Diggzy. Twitter was abuzz with speculation about when the baby will be born, whether it will be a boy or a girl, and isn’t it cold in there, fully exposed to the elements on a snowy New York City day?
Since the announcement, RiRi has continued to make headlines every week for her show-stopping maternity style. The Savage X Fenty founder’s pregnancy drip is the gift that keeps on giving. Anytime she arrives at an event or leaves a trendy restaurant, those few feet of sidewalk between the door and the Uber become the most exciting fashion show in town.
Every look Rihanna has worn in the past month has been an unabashed celebration of pregnancy, fertility, and life. She has opted for vivid colors and glittering pieces that take pregnancy glow to a new level.
Take, for example, the head-to-toe diamanté Attico set she wore to a Fenty Beauty event on February 11. Lime green strands of sequins making up the chicly shredded top criss-crossed her baby bump. On the bottom, she wore ombré purple pants in the same metallic fringe material. Between the backless halter style of the shirt and the strappy black stilettos, the Y2K-inspired outfit could be transported straight from her “Pon De Replay” era.
Most notably, the “Umbrella” singer does not shy away from teeny tiny tops and sheer dresses that put her belly on full display. When she wears a jacket, she deliberately leaves the bottom half unbuttoned. She even gives the bump accessories of its own — gold body chains and strings of diamonds. But really, the bump is an accessory in and of itself.
One of her first post-reveal looks included a Fendi tie-front crop top, precariously fastened at the top of her bump and evoking Raquel Welch’s fur bikini in One Million Years BC. She paired it with a divine denim-and-leopard patchwork coat and a camouflage trucker hat. Another bump-accentuating outfit consisted of a barely-there lace-up Jean Paul Gaultier top, split-hem Attico leggings, and a cropped bomber jacket. In head-to-toe black and dripping with diamond jewelry, she lives up to her Bad Gal moniker.
Just since January 31, Rihanna has simply worn too many incredible styles to break down in one article—a peach-colored leather minidress, a black latex bralette under a lavender Muppets-esque coat, a logo-emblazoned Gucci slip, and a custom, fire engine red Alaïa trench coat, to name a few. Basically, this child is going to pop out of the womb in couture.
At this week’s Dior Autumn Winter 2022 runway show, the 34-year-old style icon arrived fashionably late in a head-turning lingerie look. She layered an ultra-sheer lace chemise over a matching bra and underwear set. A black trench positioned just so to show off her shoulders, a swipe of dark lipstick, and tall black boots added a Dominatrix edge. Whether it was because of the impeccably styled outfit or the fact that she mouthed off to a fan who pointed out her tardiness (“No shit.”), Rihanna yet again managed to spark an internet frenzy just by showing up.
The reason why Rihanna has been killing the maternity fashion game (besides the fact that she’s, well, Rihanna) is that she is dressing the same as she always has. Historically, pregnancy has tended to have the sartorial effect of rain on a parade. With some exceptions, even the most fashion-inclined pregnant women often abandon their babydoll dresses, vintage jeans, and–God forbid–midriff-baring crop tops for tent-like mumus and elastic waistbands.
Of course, comfort plays no small role here, and that’s a perfectly valid reason to make wardrobe changes. But there is more than one way to be comfortable. For some people, comfort may not be wearing the softest, stretchiest pants, but feeling sexy and empowered and feminine. Sadly, most maternity clothes still send the same decades-old, societally reinforced message that women should hide their changing bodies, preferably with as much beige-hued fabric as possible.
Rihanna’s anti-maternity wear is so spectacular not only because is it a fur-trimmed middle finger to the idea that a woman’s pregnant body should be covered, but because it also goes one step further by showing that pregnancy is sexy. That it is empowering. And most importantly, that a woman does not have to change who she is—or the clothes that make her feel great—to be a mother.