There are a lot of things Rihanna can do that you can’t. Rihanna can avoid getting her razor-thin stilettos stuck in drain holes by about a millimetre. Rihanna can use her bodyguard’s shiny bald head to roll a joint. Rihanna can skive work for six years by not releasing an album since 2016’s Anti (fine, fine, she’s built a billion dollar business empire in the meantime). Rihanna can stop the world in its tracks when she announces her pregnancy, as she did on Monday.
And Rihanna can wear an absolutely bonkers pair of jeans while announcing said pregnancy and get away with it.
The day started off like any other crap Monday. Storm Malik flung coats open on the way to work, the weekend’s hangovers bubbled over to the working week. But then, while you were searching for prospective package holidays and “circling back” to emails, a few “paparazzi” shots of Rihanna and soon-to-be baby daddy A$AP Rocky emerged online, with her bump on full display as they walked the streets of Harlem hand-in-hand.
There was no orchestrated magazine cover or theatrical photo shoot for what was arguably one of the biggest celeb news announcements ever. And that was what made it so preternaturally cool. Announcing one of the most eagerly-anticipated bumps with a wink, a nudge and the dragging of a pair of jeans so wide and so ripped simultaneously made no sense, but total sense.
Right now, New York City, the setting of Rih’s Big Reveal, is minus one degree. More than that, it’s snowing – like, proper blizzard snowing. Yet the only suitable look for the Bajan singer was an archive hot pink Chanel coat from 1996 left wide open, a Christian Lacroix necklace and the jeans. It was a moment for Generation Internet, the candid, low maintenance vibe of it all sliding into the realms of the photo dumps and fake pap shots that have become trendy on social media in the past few years.
And, as if Rihanna’s deism needed proving, if you zoom in to the bump where the pseudo-rosary lies, it looks a bit like Madonna’s Like a Prayer album cover. Holier than thou, that.
Rih’s low-slung jeans cradled the bump like Jesus’ manger, with the star attraction requiring zero cover-ups while out and about in New York’s coldest month of the year. Jeans have been getting bigger recently and with Rihanna’s approval comes a whole new style agenda. The wider the leg, the breezier the attitude.
Historically, wide jeans have been popular in times of emancipation. The ’60s had hippies widening their trousers and protesting against The Man. Disco in the following decade saw jeans flare up to allow for movement on the dancefloor, with bell-bottoms becoming a Studio 54 staple.
Over in the UK, towards the end of the ’80s and into the ’90s, acid house, the opening of Manchester’s Haçienda nightclub and the rise of the psychedelic sounds of Madchester led a free-love movement of pills, swaying dance moves and loose clothing – namely, jeans that hung way over shoes.
Jeans went on various yo-yo diets throughout the years after that, going from hipster bootlegs and dad jeans to skinny jeans, drainpipes and everything in between.
But in 2022, Rihanna’s jeans, in their low-slung glory nesting the bump of the century, are somewhat life-affirming. Sure, they’re collecting the slush of the city’s leftover snow. Fine, they present a potential trip hazard. Alright, they look utterly mad. But there’s something so artfully punk in Rihanna’s traipsing around in the widest of jeans while pregnant that, yes, only Rihanna could pull it off.
Make no mistake, this is not a look for you. There are some things only Rihanna can do, got it?