Labour days


Labour days

Actress Kerry Washington has done it twice this month. After walking the red carpet in a sedately coloured Balenciaga gown showing off her baby bump at the recent Golden Globe Awards in California, US, the star wore a sparkly pink crop top with a high-waisted black skirt (Prada) to the Screen Actors Guild Awards earlier this week. In a crop top that drew instant attention to her mid-section, the pregnant Washington, whose haute couture statements in TV serial Scandal didn’t go unnoticed, took a good shot at maternity glamour.

In India, most actresses disappear from public glare during the peak of their pregnancies as our cultural traditions believe in guarding unborn babies from the “evil eye”. Those who do show up make self-conscious pictures, alas. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan turned up at an Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla event in Mumbai a few weeks before her delivery in a boxy, embroidered Abu-Sandeep creation, clearly not aiming for mommy glamour. Lara Dutta and Shilpa Shetty did much better but we have no enduring red carpet images of them as recall. With the exception of Konkana Sen Sharma, who showed off her pregnancy in an indulgent cover photograph (her long plait falling to her stomach) for Ok! magazine in 2011, most others avoid excessive attention.

In the West, however, maternity glamour is a highly coveted fashion opportunity. Besides choosing a dress custom-made to show a happily big belly without looking tacky, the actresses, say fashion tabloids, sit through elaborate manicure-pedicure-hair spa-facial routines to accentuate the natural glow of impending motherhood. Eventually, when a pregnant actress steps out on the red carpet, the combination of that glow, accessories (keep them slim, say maternity stylists), shoes (sensibly heeled if you mustn’t appear reckless) and the garment create a popping style moment. A fat task, really.

While Washington fondly patted her belly and a radiant Drew Barrymore bloomed in a floral Monique Lhuillier gown at the recent Golden Globes, it was Angelina Jolie, by her own design (in well-advertised collaboration with Brad Pitt) a frequent expert at mommy glamour, who gave words to the sentiment at Cannes in 2008. “…I love being pregnant,” she told journalists as she walked the red carpet wearing Brad Pitt on her sleeve and a forest green chiffon Max Azria Atelier gown showing her belly pregnant with twins. “You feel more like a woman than you’ve ever felt,” she added. This being a style piece, let’s steer away from a debate on whether biological pregnancy is the only time a woman feels most like a woman and give Jolie a courtesy nod.

Hard to miss around this couture bubble are subliminal hints at fertility, sexuality and relationships that take the hue of parenthood. If the baby’s father is also preening alongside, there is sexual chemistry to read into.

Last year, international red carpets were hot turf for pregnancy glamour. TV star Kim Kardashian, who showed off her baby bulge at various events, turned up at the 2013 Met Ball in New York in a floral Givenchy gown by Ricardo Tisci wearing matching floral gloves and gold shoes. Then there was ready-to-pop, Christmas-y Kate Winslet at the BFI London Film Festival in a plunging and sequinned, red Jenny Packham gown. Just a delicate coincidence that it was for the premiere of her film Labor Day. But just as 2011 was the year of Beyonce’s pregnant red carpet appearance in an orange Lanvin gown, it was Halle Berry’s maternal pomp in 2013 that stole the show. Her cropped hair all tousled, she looked stunningly sexy in a long black gown with lace cut-outs for the premiere of her film The Call in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

It is difficult to overwrite the fascinating image of the nude and seven months pregnant Demi Moore on the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991, but I wouldn’t call it a Labour Day till Lady Gaga is with child. Hopefully, that’s when mommy fashion’s awaited precocious twins—imagination and shock—will be born on the red carpet.