Over recent fashion months, the image of a pregnant woman has been etched onto the runway like a hieroglyph. During the AW22 season, it seemed as though designers had allied with government agencies to tackle declining birth rates: bellies were borne at Di Petsa and Nensi Dojaka, while real-life babies walked the Elena Velez show in New York, just as they did for Cormio during SS23 and at Saks Potts for AW23, where sprogs were slung across the hip like an overstuffed handbag.
On the first day of London Fashion Week, emerging designers have done the same thing, with Di Petsa and Sinéad O’Dwyer pledging allegiance to the madonna with sculptural mesh bumps and actual pregnant women entwined in shibari-inspired bodysuits. And just as the male contraceptive pill has been proven to halt sperm in rats! Perhaps all the confusion that’s gathered around why women no longer want to surrender their lives to an annoying child has nothing to do with the cost of living crisis, nor the erosion of domestic values, but that pregnant people have no stylish protagonists to hitch themselves on.
That is until Rihanna got pregnant and opened the drawbridge on a new era of salacious maternity wear: doing it first in a vintage Chanel puffer and once again in a Loewe shell suit during her half-time show, transforming the Superbowl into the Superbowel. The collective fascination with pregnant women can be mapped across contemporary culture, spanning Roe versus Wade, Elon Musk’s (alleged) breeding kink, and the way gay people have swapped out the word “icon” for “mother”. Might this encourage more people to have children? Nope! But at least pregnant women don’t have to find inspiration in something called “mummy bloggers” and Mumsnet.