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How Ashley Graham Rewrote the Rules on Maternity Dressing

How Ashley Graham Rewrote the Rules on Maternity Dressing

Pregnancy hasn’t slowed Ashley Graham down one bit. The multi-tasking model, host, and author continues to juggle her runway career with her life as a talk show host on YouTube, while designing swimwear collections in her spare time. Her busy schedule necessitates a wardrobe that encomapasses it all—red carpet glamour, executive realness, off-duty model style—and that’s something Graham has taken in her stride. The 32-year-old Vogue cover star has long championed fashion with a seductive verve, and as an expectant mother she’s continued to seek out slinky silhouettes and statement-making pieces. When Graham steps out in iridescent Christopher John Rogers, as she did at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund awards in November, or a transparent Norma Kamali gown like the one she wore to Fenty x Savage’s runway show in September, she stays true to the sexy sensibility while defying outdated expectations of how a mom-to-be ought to dress. Instead of covering up, Graham and her stylist Jordan Foster have found inventive ways to flaunt her curves—much to the delight of fashion enthusiasts everywhere. For Foster, the eye-catching outfits are simply a reflection of Graham’s effervescent personality. “Working with Ashley is honestly a dream,” shares Foster on set in Los Angeles. “Not only is she always positive, happy, and in a great mood, but she also knows her body better than anyone I’ve ever worked with.”

It’s a decisive and self-assured approach to dressing Graham and Foster have been honing over the last two years. “When I first met Ashley back in 2017, I think she hadn’t yet had the opportunity to wear clothing that she wanted to wear,” says Foster. “In our first meeting, we talked about brands and styles that she had always wanted to wear but felt weren’t available in her size. She had a sort of uniform up until that point which was a fitted stretchy dress with a jacket or top and a corset belt.” In an effort to move beyond those basics, Foster and Graham sought out collaborations with designers such as Vivienne Westwood, Prabal Gurung, and Christian Siriano who were eager to work with the star. “Ashley hadn’t had the chance to explore her fashion as much up to that point, and I think was surprised to see that brands loved her and wanted to dress her,” she says. “Her style has evolved from just trying to make it work with sizing and tricks to completely owning her looks.”

That evolution has been marked by an embrace of pattern and color, as well as a willingness to experiment with new silhouettes even as her body changes with pregnancy. “The only difference [in the last few months] would be that Ashley has been more open to trying styles she might not have before and has discovered that she likes them,” says Foster. “Our first fitting after she had gone public with the pregnancy in August, we ended up picking a handful of really feminine dresses which in the past had not been her go-to style.” Sultrier looks like the glossy berry-toned Vex latex number she wore to the Fashion Media Awards in September proved equally appealing. “Laura, from Vex, is one of my favorite people to work with. She made that dress in one day in Los Angeles and overnighted it to us,” says Foster of the headline-making statement piece initially created for the Billboard awards. “We tried it on to be silly when she was fully showing, and it ended up looking amazing and so hot! We had a tight window for her to be able to wear it, and I think it all worked out exactly as it was supposed to.”

With its ruched finish and delicate spaghetti straps, the reflective Christopher John Rogers dress Graham wore to the CVFF Awards was just as impactful, landing her on multiple best-dressed lists. It also proved a prophetic choice given Rogers’s Fashion Fund win that night. “CJR was incredible; the silhouette was his idea although we asked him to add straps, and we went back and forth on maybe ten different fabric options and landed on the green and purple mesh,” says Foster. “He made it over a weekend, and we had just one fitting the same day as the event. It was clear why he was the winner.”

Naturally, practical adjustments have been made to Graham’s pregnancy wardrobe for comfort—lower heels, lighter fabrics, for example. The turtleneck sweaters and high-waisted pants she once favored have also been put to one side, though her signature look has remained the same overall. “We have, of course, had to work around an ever-changing pregnant body, but we have had so much fun with it,” she says. “We have laughed more during the last six months in fittings than ever before.” As Graham inches closer to her January due date, it’s clear her fashion choices are only getting bolder and more confident. “Ashley has stayed very true to herself and her personal fashion,’ says Foster. “We never discussed changing her look—she even wore a latex dress with a full bump!”