Pregnant Hollywood Stylist Gets Real About Maternity Brands That "All Kinda Suck"

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Stylist Ilaria Urbinati

Expecting fraternal twins, Ilaria Urbinati, the stylist to Bradley Cooper and Rami Malek, sounded off on Instagram and to The Hollywood Reporter about "kinda lame clothes you would never wear if you were not pregnant" and young "stick thin" non-pregnant models "wearing giant fake bumps."

"Can we talk about maternity brands for a sec? Why do they all kinda suck?" read the beginning of a lengthy Instagram post last Friday, July 12, by stellar Hollywood fashion stylist Ilaria Urbinati, who is expecting fraternal twins in October with her partner Johnny Hunt. "First of all, how is it OK in this day & age that nearly every single maternity brand uses NON pregnant models (who are like 20 and stick thin with no boobs) wearing giant fake bumps to model their clothes?"

While Urbinati has been pregnant before (her daughter Wylder is 3), her second summer pregnancy with not one, but two, babies maxed out her frustration over the issues, leading to her self-described "rant." It's all the more significant since she does not typically speak out on issues, aside from her impassioned post in support of Harvey Weinstein’s fashion designer ex-wife Georgina Chapman last May. The stylist to the likes of Rami Malek, Bradley Cooper, Donald Glover and Armie Hammer elaborated exclusively to The Hollywood Reporter on the subject of her recent post (which had 3,476 likes and 277 comments as of July 18, and she personally responded to every one).


Can we talk about maternity brands for a sec? Why do they all kinda suck? First of all, how is it OK in this day & age that nearly every single maternity brand uses NON pregnant models (who are like 20 and stick thin with no boobs) wearing giant fake bumps to model their clothes? Not even small fake bumps, I mean like 9 month bumps on rail thin models. Does anyone else think this is outrageous? That aside... why do they all make kinda lame clothes you would never wear if you were not pregnant ? Personally I don’t buy any maternity clothes... with the exception of the wonderful @storq who makes the best softest basics (and uses REAL pregnant models)... mostly I’ve been living in non maternity brands such as the amazing @perle_mer which I’ll actually wear post pregnancy & beyond (as a bonus they use all eco friendly materials & dyes, with fabrics so soft that I - yes - sometimes just sleep in their dresses ). This little get up pictured here is @yumikim - a lot of their stuff is flowy and adorable even pregnant. I just buy them in bigger sizes to fit the giant twins belly. @zara has a lot of stuff that works on pregnant bellies and the prices mean I can give it all away after. @Zimmerman has lovely stuff when I feel like spending the money. If you have any maternity & non maternity brands you love for pregnancy, leave it in the comments below! (Just don’t say Hatch). Ok that’s my whole rant... hopefully this was helpful for some of you pregnant or soon to be pregnant ladies out there And hey maternity brands using fake pregnancy bumps, get your shit together #realtalk #maternitystyle

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"I don't like to get political on Instagram; I personally really like to pick my battles so I usually only bring up things that seem unjust and no one's saying anything," she said. "This time, everybody weighed in. I don't think I've ever had more comments on a post!"

Fellow Hollywood stylist Samantha McMillen (who dresses Elle and Dakota Fanning and Chris Hemsworth) posted her advice, saying, "I loved vintage bohemian dresses when I was pregnant. I wore a lot of @raquelallegra and @xirena_ too." And a second post: "Christy Dawn has a few great ones that will work for pregnant bellies. And ... they are sustainable. I wear tons of their dresses."

Actress Juliette Lewis chimed in with several others to say that Urbinati should create her own pregnancy line. "It's not that simple," Urbinati told THR. "I wouldn't just start a line from scratch, but I would do a collaboration with a brand. I'd love to do something with a mass market brand like H&M or Target that could be appealing to anyone. I have a sense of what I think pregnant women want, based on what I want, because I'm not one of those women who remains really skinny during pregnancy; I'm not doing Tracy Anderson workouts! But I'm a person who's fit in between pregnancies, so I kind of understand both sides of it. I would totally love to do something that is cool and chic and makes women feel great; pieces that are soft and comfortable that you can be in all day for work and then go to a party in."

It all started when Urbinati was shopping for maternity clothes online. As part of the fashion industry herself, she happened to recognize some of the models used by maternity brands and knew that they were not pregnant, even though they appeared to be in the imagery. If not for her inside track, she says that she would have assumed that the skinny, pregnant body standards were real.

"They're using giant fake bumps, like nine-month-size bumps, on these models who are literally 20 years old and rail thin!" Urbanati told THR. "It's a list of insults. At least do a smaller bump or get a size six model who's 30 years old. Women are already having to deal with seeing their bodies morph and change during pregnancy. So the last thing you want to do is give a woman a complex about, 'Why don't I look like all these girls who weigh 2 pounds and [are] flat chested?'"

Urbinati mentions British model Louise Boyce, who is advocating for "honesty in maternity advertising" with a #Pushitout petition on requesting that brands including ASOS, Topshop, Seraphina, Boohoo and others add disclaimers to imagery on their sites to disclose that models are wearing fake prosthetic foam bellies. "Either have a disclaimer or don't do it! It's so unethical to me," says Urbinati. "If you are going to do maternity wear, there are tons of beautiful models who are pregnant and probably very stoked to get the job! And I've noticed that some brands, like Bianca Balti, use a model without a bump and I don't think it's a bad idea, because at least it's honest and the dresses are so cute they can be worn beyond pregnancy."


Does my bump look real in this? The gorgeous model on the left is selling a maternity swimsuit wearing a fake foam bump - and that’s me actually pregnant on the right. These false representations do not embody the diversity of body shapes that are all natural when pregnant. Real bumps come in all different shapes and sizes and, rather than celebrating this, the retail sector seems to be ignorant to the pressures women feel to look a certain way while their bodies are undergoing an enormous physical transformation. I have spoken to many women who have found this shopping experience so unrelatable, that they’ve considered dieting while pregnant. For others, it has caused anxiety and depression. On top of this, pregnant models like me are out of a job the moment we start to grow a bump. I’m campaigning for brands that use fake bumps on their models to state this as a disclaimer on their websites and to include more pregnant women in their shoots. I feel there needs to be a change within the maternity fashion industry - if you agree, please sign the petition in my bio, share share and share some more. Expecting mothers should expect more #PushItOut #MamaStillGotIt #Maternity

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And there's the irony of it all in light of the Time's Up movement. "In this day and age of feminism when we're talking about issues like not over-Photoshopping, the fact that this is lingering feels very hypocritical to me, especially from these brands that are supposed to be all about supporting women. The fact that it's not being talked about is outrageous to me. ... Everyone's celebrating all these amazing designers who are putting plus-size models on the runway, yet you've got pregnant women who are kind of doing God's work, let's say, literally creating human life and the future generation, and yet they're given no respect. That just seems so nuts! Really seeing what the clothes look like on a pregnant body is not any less appealing. This is definitely a conversation that needs to be happening."

Yet Urbinati acknowledges the reality of the production challenges. "I get it. It's easier, because pregnant bodies are changing all the time and you're trying to do fittings," she says. "But it's still unacceptable. Figure it out! I mean, I'm sorry, but if your clothes [can't accommodate that] you're probably not making maternity clothes! And it's both mass market brands and small boutique brands that have very large followings."

Uncomfortable fabrics and a lack of stylish options are her other major grievances: "The last thing you want to wear when you're pregnant are scratchy clothes. But the main issue is that they're clothes you would never wear if you weren't pregnant. You're just settling a lot of the time." To help other pregnant women find solutions, Urbinati shared her top 13 maternity-friendly brands with THR, including Perle Mer, Storq and Bianca Balti.