When Jahleel Weaver, Rihanna’s stylist and LVMH deputy creative director at Fenty House, first learned the multi-hyphenate mogul was pregnant, he was overjoyed. “I was extremely happy for her, knowing how important family is to her and that she always wanted to have a family,” he told Vogue in a phone interview last week. Weaver’s next feeling? “Sheer panic,” he said, bluntly. “What does this mean? How are we gonna do this?”
Rihanna’s calendar of events unspooled in his mind; for a time, in early pregnancy, the star wasn’t ready for the world to know, tasking Weaver with disguising her changing body. Very quickly, however, Weaver adopted what would become a radically optimistic philosophy on her maternity style. Instead of approaching Rihanna’s pregnancy as an obstacle, Weaver declared: “The bump is now the focal point. This is her main attribute at the moment, and let’s just highlight it as best as possible.”
The ensuing looks amounted to one-woman pregnancy fashion revolution—a rarely-seen, unbridled celebration of the pregnant form, with bejeweled necklaces, crop tops, and low-slung jeans that were decidedly not dedicated maternity wear. “I’ve never once looked at anything maternity,” Weaver emphatically stated, recalling a moment in January when a tailor suggested inserting elastic into one of Rihanna’s garments. “She was like, ‘No. I don’t want elastic anything. Ever.’” Weaver agreed: “It’s not very sexy, and it kind of dumbs everything down a notch,” he explained. “You want to not feel as if you’re giving up quite yet, you know?” (In lieu of elastic, Weaver noted, there is “tons” of tailoring.)
Weaver never set out to make a sociopolitical statement: “I didn’t think it was so unseen to see a woman with her belly out,” he said, but once the awed feedback began to pour in, Weaver endeavored to be even bolder with Rihanna’s style. “It’s been, probably, the most fun we’ve had with fashion, ever, in my time working with her.” Here, Weaver shares his favorites of Rihanna’s pregnancy looks—and the stories behind them.