Once upon a time in Old Hollywood, actresses would hide their pregnancies with tent-like gowns and then emerge, resplendent, with bouncing babies after having secretly given birth.
Not anymore; stars are turning the surprise red-carpet pregnancy reveal into an art form, choosing just the right moment — and gown — to unveil their burgeoning bumps.
Earlier this month, Blake Lively, 31, stole the show at husband Ryan Reynold’s “Detective Pikachu” premiere, using the event — and a figure-hugging canary-yellow Retrofete frock — to announce that the couple is expecting their third child.
Even before Blake’s bright bump reveal, “Jessica Jones” star Krysten Ritter, 37, debuted her baby belly in a form-fitting burgundy lace Reem Acra dress at the Oscars earlier this year.
Talk about glowing in the spotlight.
But don’t be fooled by the apparent effortlessness of strutting down the red carpet with an adorably round bump, says Grace Kapin, a former stylist and now creative director at the minimalist maternity brand Storq. These of-the-moment pregnancy announcements are highly orchestrated, likely requiring fashion hacks and strategic timing.
“Pretty much nobody is making red-carpet maternity wear,” Kapin told Page Six Style, which means A-list stylists are reaching for ready-made gowns with a lot of stretch, using fabrics like crepe jersey and spandex. Then, “unless the fabric itself has a lot of visual interest, you’re using the same tricks that you would with regular red-carpet style,” she explained. These include turning up the volume on the look with great jewels, gorgeous hair, flawless makeup and “vertiginous heels that seem inappropriate for pregnant ladies,” she said with a laugh.
Then, it’s all about perfecting the “I’m expecting” pose.
At certain angles — head-on, for instance — “you can’t [always] tell if someone is pregnant,” she said. “So that’s why you always see a hand on top or a hand below … doing the defining between your belly and your bust, or between the bottom of your belly and the rest of your dress.”
The ideal view, Kapin said, is full profile, but that can lead to awkward head and neck positions if an actress is preening for photographers. For that reason, a three-quarter angle is the way to go — assuming the pregnant celeb has practiced her posture.
“You want to make sure your shoulders are straight but you’re not overarching your back,” said Kapin, who directs model shoots for Storq, “because that looks uncomfortable when you see it on camera.”
Take perennial trendsetter Beyoncé, 37, who perfected (and might be the prototype for) that three-quarter bump-displaying pose. At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, after referencing the “love growing inside me” onstage during her performance, she appeared on the red carpet in a goddess-like, flowing orange Lanvin gown cradling her bump with a smile.
And if a star does choose to reveal her belly at a high-profile event, such as a movie premiere or the Oscars, it’s probably because the timing is right, aesthetically speaking.
The ideal — and fleeting — window for a beautiful, bountiful belly is 28 to 32 weeks, or around seven months pregnant, said Kapin. “It’s where you look pregnant enough to be unmistakably pregnant.” After 32 weeks, well into the third trimester, there’s more weight gain and swelling, she explained.
Even the most famous women in the world can’t prevent it, she sadid: “You can’t be accountable for what happens to your body, particularly from 34 to 40 weeks.”
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