Rihanna is pregnant. Here’s why the photo shoot is next level.
The art form known as the “celebrity pregnancy photoshoot” has a winning new entry. Rihanna and ASAP Rocky announced their first child with the release of a street shot of Miles Diggs, aka Diggzy, aka the 20-something photographer named by Vogue as “fashion’s favorite paparazzi.”
The series of photos, posted to Instagram and sold to various outlets including this one, feature Rihanna in a vintage pink Chanel long puffer jacket with jeweled gold buttons from the Fall 1996 collection over extra-long puddle ripped jeans of water in the street and held up by a gold and leather Chanel chain belt. Her belly, framed by the coat closed by a single button at the sternum, is covered only by a cross of costume jewelry encrusted with jewels on a long pearl necklace, also from Chanel. His hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans, his hair in loose waves. ASAP Rocky wears leather pants, a Carhartt denim jacket, a varsity hoodie and a black beanie.
In one photo, they walk down a street in Harlem, apparently under the Riverside Drive overpass, holding hands; in another, he kisses her on the top of the head, creating a love circle of two. In neither does there seem to be anyone else around.
(There’s what looks like a sprinkling of snow on their hair, suggesting the photos were taken before the weekend snowstorm and freezing temperatures, and posted on a schedule.)
The framing is carefully calculated in its false intimacy, both off duty and on message. “Caught” so you feel like you’re getting a glimpse of a private moment, but in a way that’s been completely choreographed right down to the vintage diamond signet ring on her finger.
In that, Rihanna’s shot is the latest step in a photography tradition that dates back to Demi Moore’s Vanity Fair pregnancy cover in 1991.
This portrait, featuring the actress cradling her distended belly, naked except for a giant diamond ring, was so outrageous upon release that it was banned from some stores despite being mailed with a paper cover. The photo started an image-making trend that spanned Cindy Crawford, Britney Spears, Ciara and Gigi Hadid, though they were all topped by Beyoncé’s pregnant 2017 photo shoot wearing lingerie in a cradle. This snap set a new standard for dealing with the public disclosure of pregnancy, becoming not only Instagram’s most-liked photo of the year when it reached 11.1 million likes, but also the first in a The star’s entire series of high-concept maternity photo shoots have been dropped.
Today, Rihanna has brought the tradition down to earth, linking it to two contemporary phenomena. First, the evolution of street photography from guerrilla reportage to a new kind of fashion image-making (the visual equivalent of casual Friday); and second, the growing use of social media as an image-building exercise. It’s a way for celebrities to connect with their fans and community, and offer seemingly personal and unvarnished glimpses into their lives in the most polished and controlled way possible.
Indeed, Mr Diggs, whose signature features his subjects against a black and white background so they come into focus, told Vogue that part of his success was his desire to portray his subjects under their better day, and his willingness to abstain if he catches them on a day off.
Unlike the Moore tradition, which often involved being as naked as possible, or the Beyoncé photo, which delved into art history, Rihanna chose a look and composition that resembles a wink. sly eye at her own fashion – in particular, Anna Wintour’s first Vogue cover, in 1988, which featured Israeli model Michaela Bercu wearing old Guess jeans and a Christian Lacroix jacket with an ornately jeweled cross on the front, her hair blowing and wavy, laughing in the street.
At the time, it was seen as groundbreaking: a way to let out the suffocation of Vogue, demonstrate a rawer, lower era in fashion, and herald the rise of a new power at the top.
At this time, this underscores Rihanna’s ease in appropriating the imagery of the establishment and revising it for her own purposes. Not to mention her ability to move products, both of which helped transform her from simple fashion icon to billionaire entrepreneur.
Already, according to online shopping site Lovethesales, searches for “pink quilted coats” increased 200% within hours of posting the photos; for “ripped blue jeans”, 175%; and for “pearl necklaces”, 80%. (ASAP Rocky also caused a spike in men’s sweater vests, leather pants and Carhartt jackets.)
All of this suggests that when it comes to maternity style — let alone baby kits — this may just be the beginning.