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Only five weeks have passed since the curtains closed on the Met Gala but before the dust has fully settled, the fashion world has been graced with another prestigious spectacle of style. The Cannes Film Festival has provided us with generations of iconic looks, but this year, the maternity wear stole the show. Despite the common perception of maternity fashion as ‘unstylish’ and ‘off-trend’, the expecting mothers at Cannes showcased the evolution we’re seeing in the narrative surrounding motherly couture.

Adriana Lima stunned the crowds in a floor-length black Balmain dress, with a peephole exposing her bump: a favourite amongst many critics. Typically, maternity clothing is designed with over-the-bump elements, an inadvertent signifier that bumps should be as inconspicuous as possible. The peephole element of Lima’s dress works to eradicate this trend, showcasing the body in all forms, and embracing the changes that go hand-in-hand with pregnancy. The beautiful metamorphosis of the female body—something to be celebrated, not hidden away.

Another stand-out look from the French Riviera red carpet was Shanina Shaik’s. She sported a black Eman Alajlan dress, adorned with an oversized bow-shaped bodice, and a sheer, flowy black skirt. In comparison to Lima, Shaik showed her bump in a less overt manner, yet didn’t seek to draw attention away from it. Her runway look from Cannes’ amfAR Gala was more akin to that of Lima’s, with a similar cut-out style.

It is not just this year’s Cannes Film Festival that has provided us with looks redefining the perception of maternity fashion. From Beyoncé’s renowned 2017 Grammy performance to Rihanna’s enviable array of pregnancy looks this year, it is clear that there has been malleation of the boundaries of maternity fashion. Beyoncé’s performance was as spectacular as any other, and Rihanna’s business empire has continued to sky-rocket. Seeing women with such large platforms embrace their bodies at different stages sends messages to consumers and producers alike that maternity-wear need not be confined and encourages manufacturers to expand limits when designing maternity fashion.

“Maternity fashion is a branch in the tree of wider issues concerning the portrayal of the female form”

Though, the liberal narrative towards female bodies during pregnancy isn’t the same for A-list celebrities and the average mother. These celebrities have the best-of-the-best when it comes to glam teams and stylists, and are never short of looking picture perfect. Thus, their pregnancy looks hold the potential to create unattainable standards for the average woman. Taylor Giavasis, a mother and body-positive influencer, focuses her content specifically on the average woman in order to dismantle distorted perceptions of the female body. Founder of the Instagram account The Naked Diaries in 2015, she works to showcase female bodies in their authentic form; increasingly rare in an era of photoshop culture.

Giavasis has struggled with body confidence herself, saying in an interview: “I’ve finally grown to love my body because [I’ve realised] everyone is different and nobody is perfect.” Encouraging women to embrace imperfections as marks of individuality, she embodies this ideology through her style choices. Her summer-inspired wardrobe remains pervasive throughout the course of her pregnancy, demonstrating that pregnancy shouldn’t define style choices. She finds workarounds which allow her to engage in the messy life of motherhood, while still matching her desired aesthetic. Giavasis has both taken off the pressure to look red-carpet ready during pregnancy, as well as giving easy and stylistic choices to those not wanting to compromise their fashion choices.


Mountain View

The Met Gala 2022: What would Varsity wear?

There has long existed an established perception that women should look a certain way during pregnancy, and the mutual exclusivity of style and pregnancy perpetuates this. Over the past decade, the fashion industry has become more clued up on maternity fashion, shifting away from conventional maternity pieces. Now, maternity wear is more than stretchy leggings and baggy t-shirts.

However, we have only begun to scratch the surface. Maternity fashion is a branch in the tree of wider issues concerning the portrayal of the female form. But it’s a good place to start. Clothing is a form of self-expression, so it is vital for women to be able to showcase their identity throughout motherhood. Through events such as the Cannes Film Festival and innovative designs for maternity wear, we can begin to move the narrative of pregnancy away from a tired one-dimensional image, and towards recognition that motherhood doesn’t mean compromising personal style.