Dressing the bump has never been easier, but that wasn’t the case when you first started. How did you become the progenitor of pregnancy style?
When I started in 1997, my idea that pregnancy clothing could look, feel and fit just like regular clothing was revolutionary, groundbreaking. Why did pregnancy clothing needed to be so oversized; why did it always include some kind of big belly pouch? I started with a line of very simple, fitted clothing in stretchy fabrics that looked like regular clothing. It took off beyond my wildest expectations. When I started, no one cared what pregnant celebrities were wearing; that’s hard to imagine today when you can’t open a magazine without a bump watch. I started dressing pregnant celebrities and customers one at a time, personally making clothes to order for them. I ultimately landed the very, very big partnership with Target, where I became their exclusive maternity designer.
What brought the huge shift in society’s attitude toward pregnancy fashion?
Celebrities really led the charge by being proud about the way they looked when pregnant. People have veracious appetites for celebrity. As the clothing got better, the press became more interested in it.
Women also got to the point where they were not going to take it anymore. 9 months is a very long time—more than 2 seasons of clothing. Some women can’t afford to take 9 months off anything and not look good.
Style-wise, do we dress differently when pregnant?
We get insecure dressing the bump. It’s something I’ve always fought against, but there’s this general misimpression that you might look thinner if you cover your pregnant body by wearing something oversized. I’ve worked hard with customers to show them that it’s actually quite the opposite. If you wear something fitted, people can see that you are pregnant, and they see where you have some new curves. Ultimately, fitted clothes are more slimming, more flattering. In today’s market, you can find every single item you would ever want to wear in maternity, from jeans to office and formal wear.
What are we doing right with pregnancy style?
Women are embracing their own personal style and mixing maternity clothing that they like with something that’s already in their closet. From where I am, I see a parade of chic pregnant women; it’s really fantastic.
You’re the only maternity clothing designer in the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Will we ever have a maternity-focused Project Runway or Fashion Week?
Project Runway did a maternity challenge when Nina Garcia was pregnant. So, yes, particularly because celebrities embrace pregnancy. They invite us into their homes to see their nurseries, and to see what they’re dressing themselves in. When you think of the excitement we have had over the two pregnant “Ks”—Kim Kardashian and Kate Middleton—and what they were wearing, there’s no shortage of coverage or interest in sight.