As a singer, actress, business mogul and national hero of Barbados, fans have come to expect Rihanna’s endeavors to be anything but ordinary, and nothing short of trailblazing. This week was no exception, as she and her boyfriend, rapper A$AP Rocky, announced her first pregnancy with a photoshoot.
The photos, captured by photographer Miles “Diggzy” Diggs, featured the couple decked in streetwear on a Harlem road in the dead of winter. The pictures began to surface on Jan. 31 and quickly spread, as fans dissected the shoot and speculated what the pregnancy may mean for the release of new Rihanna music.
Keeping to both Rihanna and Rocky’s reputations in fashion, the announcement was imbued with elements of their personal styles. Rihanna sported a long, bright pink vintage Chanel puffer coat, with the golden Gripoix buttons undone just above her midriff. Thus making her stomach, adorned by a flashy gemstone Christian Lacroix cross attached to a long pearl chain, the focal point of the images. Rocky’s ensemble features a denim Carhartt jacket, leather pants, a cream hooded sweater and a black beanie. He wore minimal jewelry – a thin silver chain, barely visible tucked under the layers, and earrings.
The expecting couple decided to omit a studio for the maternity shoot, instead opting for a Harlem snowscape, as homage to Rocky’s hometown, framed by the Riverside Drive Viaduct. Despite the open-air staging, the intentionally candid nature of the shoot gives way to a unique display of intimacy. In the photos, the couple walks the street as if they were enjoying a day out on a strip devoid of cameras, holding hands and smiling.
Howard students like sophomore Asaad Martin took note of the freshness of the idea.
“I liked her approach to do something a little bit different than many other famous women in her industry. Where Cardi B, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé all had a more “maternity” theme to their Instagram posts and announcements, like a photoshoot revolving around flowers, cake, and such – themes around birth per se – Rihanna had more of a “normal” post… Another thing that was different was she posted A$AP where other people didn’t post their significant other in their initial post.”
Martin also made mention of the absence of Savage X Fenty branding in the shoot. “It’s a surprise as well as I don’t think she’s wearing any Fenty even though she has a line of her own clothes that she usually markets in her posts.”
Within hours of the release, fans began their search for dupes of the elements of Rihanna’s outfit, and the internet became flooded with mirroring maternity shoots.
“According to data by Love the Sales, a fashion e-commerce aggregator, searches for several items related to Rihanna’s pregnancy outfit spiked significantly in the last few hours. Searches for ‘pink padded coats’ increased by 200 percent as compared to the prior hour, while queries for ‘ripped blue jeans’ spiked by 175 percent,” the staff of Women’s Wear Daily reported just one day after the photos surfaced.
While some remain unwavering in their quest for new music, most fans welcome this new era of Rihanna’s life, regardless of what it may mean for her musical career.
“I think it’s fine that we’re not getting music, she’s had a fulfilling music career since 18 and we’ve loved it completely. Now she can explore and make products that we can have in good quality. It’s fun seeing an artist be this creative at this level, especially for women of the black diaspora,” Howard senior Coby Wilkerson said.
Amidst the excitement of the announcement, Rihanna posted an additional photo to her Instagram captioned, “how the gang pulled up to black history month.” Her celebratory attitude around the news comes as no surprise, considering her previously communicated desire to start a family.
In an interview with Essence in 2019, Rihanna voiced some of her goals pertaining to motherhood, “I’m a black woman. I came from a black woman, who came from a black woman, who came from a black woman and I’m going to give birth to a black woman. It’s a no-brainer. That’s who I am. It’s the core of who I am in spirit and DNA.”
Copy edited by: N’dia Webb