Irma Zandl, founder of the retail and fashion consultancy Zandl Group, called the movement "in your face pregnancy" fashion.
Joining this growing celebration of the expectant mother is Target Corp.'s Target Stores, which later this year begins sale of a new maternity line by Liz Lange, designer of close-fitting maternity clothing worn by celebrities such as Uma Thurman, Julianne Moore, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vanessa Williams.
Flaunting the belly
Other retailers, such as the Gap, with its online maternity store, also have been taking off the wraps from pregnant women. A fall print ad on the Gap's Web site -- which doubles as a free postcard at checkout stands in GapKids stores -- prominently shows pregnant actress Marlee Matlin in a tailored striped shirt pushed away to show off her abdomen.
"Cindy Crawford and Demi Moore were the first celebs to flaunt the belly. Since then, it's become a really cool 'chick' phenomenon to be so audacious when pregnant," Ms. Zandl said. "Of course, it also reflects the increasing informality of our society."
She cautions, however, that that the fashion trend might work only for the "really beautiful."
Target has been parlaying its partnerships with big-name artists and designers since its launch of architect Michal Graves' product lines. Affiliations with other artists followed, including makeup artist Sonia Kashuk and designers Todd Oldham and Mossimo Giannulli. The new affiliation with Liz Lange could be used as a marketing enhancement for the store's already extensive baby gift registry, called the Lullaby Club.
Target competitor Wal-Mart Stores, meanwhile, takes a major step to up its fashion quotient with the extension this month of its George private-label line into women's career clothing.