“This is my plus one,” says Adriana Lima to a crew of photographers and points to her pregnant belly. She’s in Cannes for a red carpet tour de force of Chopard jewels, Cavalli gowns, and no less than 10 fan accounts tracking her every wardrobe change. She’s also becoming a new kind of icon — “bump forward,” as the nascent high-fashion pregnancy style industry would say — thanks to her recent belly-baring looks on the Alexander Wang runway, the cover of ELLE Greece, and now at Cannes, where she’s been photographed with the same reverent frequency as fellow bombshells Stella Maxwell and Winnie Harlow, all while dressing for two.
Lima’s trompe de bump (which is a phrase I just made up, but we’re gonna go with it…) comes on the heels of Rihanna’s much-celebrated pregnancy tour, which included belly-baring looks from Christian Dior, Gucci, and Valentino, along with a Vogue cover and an article from Vanessa Friedman in The New York Times delving into the political subversion behind the designer flexes. “By dressing to showcase her pregnant belly … in a way that has nothing to do with traditional maternity wear, Rihanna is modeling an entirely opposite reality,” Friedman writes — and that reality insists sex appeal and raw power don’t leave a woman when she conceives; instead, those forces magnify.
“I think it’s become a beautiful, powerful movement to really embrace the female form when it’s pregnant,” says Nicole Trunfio, the Australian model and mother of three who created the pregnancy brand Bumpsuit in December of 2020. “Maternity fashion is about putting the pregnant body on a pedestal and showing it in all of its glory… You know, nude [pregnancy] shoots are beautiful, but even when you wear clothes, you should be able to show off your pregnant body, not try to hide it.” But it’s also a commercial necessity in an age where goal posts are tied to Instagram posts, and everything from a bucket list vacation to a bachelorette party requires its own hashtag and a grid-worthy wardrobe to match.
When visibility equals value, it’s neither lucrative nor forward-thinking to sacrifice one’s steady stream of style plugs just because there’s a bump in the picture — which might explain why social media countesses like Swarovski creative director Giovanna Battaglia Engelbert wore a crystal-studded bare belly with a Balmain crop top last month, and Shay Mitchell flaunted her Fendace (that’s Fendi x Versace, because: apocalypse) with a fully exposed bump to go with her epic logo trench coat. As for Sophie Turner’s two pregnancy-chic magazine covers — the actor wore a mesh Louis Vuitton dress for The Cut, and a cropped Vuitton denim jacket with her bare bump exposed for ELLE UK — they make the case that high fashion looks aren’t just for regular moms, they’re for cool moms. (And they’re a great way to continue being sponsored by a luxury brand no matter how one’s body changes. Let’s hope that ethos continues for celebrities who dare to grow larger when they’re not pregnant, too.)
Of course, the concept of pregnancy chic isn’t just for the very famous and very rich. “I started my line because I felt like I had nothing to wear, but I also felt like I didn’t want to spend a ton,” says Trunfio. “Plus, a lot of [maternity] wear might look great in a photo, but the second you’re wearing something with a big waist band and you’re pregnant, boom, acid reflux. It feels awful. Only someone who’s been pregnant would get that, you know? You can’t look good if you physically hurt, and you always look good when you feel like the best version of yourself. That’s how the Bumpsuit was born.” (It now counts Kylie Jenner and Jennifer Lawrence as fans, and has been so successful that Trunfio spun off a shapewear line for non-pregnant women, too.)
There’s one more reason pregnancy chic is becoming a thing among “real” (read: non-famous) women, and I realized it at my friend J’s recent baby shower. She was wearing a body-con Missoni knit over her seven-month bump, despite being a sack-dress acolyte of Simone Rocha and Rachel Antonoff in her pre-pregnancy days. “It’s sad, but I’ve always been too insecure to do a super-tight dress,” she told me. “I came of age in Y2K, when ‘curvy’ just meant ‘thin with boobs.’ As ridiculous as I know it is now, I was always afraid I looked lumpy! Now, I look back and feel real sadness for myself, and I feel such freedom getting dressed. Like, of course I’m lumpy, I’m pregnant! So I’m gonna wear the tightest stuff possible and really show it off. Pregnancy fashion has really taught me there are no limits on how my body ‘should’ be dressed. And after I have the baby,” she grinned, “I’m gonna keep wearing whatever I want.”
Keep scrolling for a few fashion girl-approved pieces for showing off your bump.
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