Pregnant at the Oscars? Stars, Producers Reveal How to Dress
'A Star Is Born' producer Lynette Howell Taylor, who endured awards season while with child, and other insiders share tips on what to wear and how to breast pump: "I wasn't going to let a giant baby bump slow me down."
Getting through awards season can be a stressful marathon. Doing it with a baby on board makes questions of what to wear and how to get through Oscar night even more challenging. "The whole thing was quite surreal," The Favourite nominee Rachel Weisz recalls of being seven months pregnant in 2006 when she won her supporting actress Oscar for The Constant Gardener.
Among the current season's expectant contenders: Cold War actress Joanna Kulig and Oscar-nominated A Star Is Born producer Lynette Howell Taylor. Howell Taylor had her baby just after running the early awards gantlet in Venice and Toronto. At seven months along, "everything in Venice felt treacherous," she says. "The boat ride to the airport was bumpy, so I spent the entire time suspended on my hands, to get space between me and other things." Conversely, ICM Partners' Jessica Lacy says being weeks out from her son's due date at Sundance in 2014 had benefits: "Everybody had to [come to] meet me because I was not going to trek in the ice. Holding my stomach, I'd say, 'We need to close this deal because I'm going into labor.' "
For new mamas heading to the Oscars while breastfeeding, Howell Taylor says she was advised to bring a black trash bag to put over herself "so you don't leak onto your dress." Her husband, Endeavor Content's Graham Taylor, "gets to hold the pump bag — I get to carry the cute clutch." Lacy, who gave birth right before the Oscars, says she was "pumping and dumping" as she had a sip of champagne at the show.
Food can become an issue, with gala offerings prompting nausea in some and the need to bring your own for others. Imax Entertainment president Megan Colligan, who was a Fox Searchlight exec when eight months pregnant at the 2005 Oscars, recalls, "I brought snacks, for sure," then: "I ate well at the Governors Ball — I didn't get ill."
When it comes to dressing for the Oscars, The Wife star Glenn Close, who was eight months pregnant when nominated for Fatal Attraction in 1988, remembers of her strapless dress: "It was huge, but Mr. [Giorgio] Armani managed to make me look pretty good in it." Colligan says she "got to wear a giant, comfy silk tent and [no] Spanx. Famous movie stars stop in their tracks to tell you that you look beautiful because they know you feel huge." As Howell Taylor puts it, "I wasn't going to let a giant baby bump slow me down."
Director Jehane Noujaim, who was nominated in 2014 for her doc The Square, attended the 2016 Oscars while pregnant with twins. "I admire people who wear plunging dresses that show off the pregnancy," she says, "but I wore a black jumpsuit" with a jacket "and stayed away from the cameras." Lacy adds: "You lose so much weight when you give birth, everything is smooshy," so she wore a snug Herve Leger bandage dress and "could pull the top down easily" for pumping.
The size of a baby bump matters, says designer Paula Thomas, whose label Thomas Wylde was among Angelina Jolie's choices for Cannes in 2008, when she was pregnant with twins. "If you're just showing, you can look more constipated than like you're having a child," so downplay it, says Thomas. "Further along, you can emphasize the bump." Elizabeth Stewart, who has dressed a pregnant Cate Blanchett and Gal Gadot for the Oscars, agrees: "I love a fitted dress in the later stages of pregnancy — it can be very flattering. In early stages, I like a dress that is fitted in the bust area and gradually loosens."
Stylist-turned-designer Mary Alice Haney says her bodycon dresses made of “suck-you-in jersey” work well with a baby bump. “It forms around the belly and can still be sexy.”
Her guidelines for moms-to-be who are about to hit the red carpet: “All tips to make you look thin apply doubly so when pregnant. Darker colors tend to be your friend, and a lot of ruffles or sequins are probably not the best when you’re about to pop out a baby.” She says to stick with simpler silhouettes, keep it classic, and play up your assets. “It’s hard to have a waist,” so make legs the focus.
A pregnant Chrissy Teigen wore a long black Haney dress with a thigh-high slit on one side to the NAACP Image Awards in 2016. “It was all about this one leg, with the stomach beautifully out there,” says Haney. "Just because you’re pregnant or just had a baby, doesn’t mean you don’t want make a statement.”
“It’s about embracing it,” stylist Anita Patrickson says. “Some people feel like it’s overwhelming, but it’s just another body shape. It can be fun to wear different dresses than you would if you didn’t have a baby bump.”
Wise shoe choices are critical, adds Patrickson, who recently opened her own bespoke sandal shop in West Hollywood (Amanu). "Your feet tend to swell or change shape," she says, suggesting a platform or going up a size: "It's all about being comfortable."
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 20 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.