BLACK BRIDESMITH, Queensland – You can tell it’s a black dress by the fact it’s decorated with a black, white and red band across the back.
It’s a trend that’s seen its fair share of colour on Australian TV, but a new style of dress for white women is catching the eye of people around the country.
It’s called the white maternity, and it’s inspired by a black woman’s experience of giving birth in white maternity dresses.
It started as a way to celebrate birth, and then it just sort of took off,” said Tricia White, a black and brown Australian-born mum and designer.”
The more I think about it, the more I realise that there are so many women out there that have been forced to put on these little white maternity gowns because they just don’t fit, and I think they are just trying to express themselves.
“It’s just not something that is very comfortable, or it doesn’t fit their shape and size.
It’s just really about finding something that works for you.”
Tricia White is a black Australian-British mother of two and designer of a range of maternity dress designs for black and other ethnic groups.
She started designing maternity dresses in the early 1990s, before she moved to New York to start her career in fashion design.
“I started out designing dresses for black women,” she said.
“Then I went into maternity clothes, and as I started designing dresses I started to realise that it wasn’t the black woman who needed a maternity dress that fit them but for them to express their blackness.”
Ms White said she was inspired to create maternity dresses for white mothers after seeing the colour white and the way they were traditionally dressed in the US.
“Black mothers and women of colour are always told, ‘Look, it’s not that white or black, it is the colour of your hair’,” she said, adding that she wanted to bring something different to the black community.
“My idea was to create something that was made for white motherhood, and that’s how I ended up with this white maternity garment.”
She said her designs would be more suitable for black mothers and would be available in different sizes.
“They have this white band across, so that’s one thing I wanted to add, because I wanted it to be more than just white, and be more of a celebration of the woman’s body,” she explained.
The black maternity dress was originally created in New York, where it has become popular.
“There’s this white and black band across and I wanted the other side to be white, so it’s more of an open black band, and also for the colour, and the band is sort of the neckline of the dress, so you can see it through the dress,” she added.
“When you’re doing a dress for a woman of colour, there’s a lot of pressure and a lot more pressure on the dress than if you’re just going to wear it, because there’s just so much pressure.”
Black women make up less than one per cent of Australia’s population, but they account for more than one-third of maternity deaths.
White maternity dressThe white maternity was designed by Tricia and is available in a number of sizes and styles.
“For me it just felt like, there were some really, really good black women, and you know, I felt like it was really important to show that they were here,” she told 7.30.
The white mother and her son, who are black, had to get in touch with Ms White, because their black husband had been killed in a car crash, so she knew the dress would be perfect for their daughter.
“And I thought that they would just be really, truly special, and really happy and loving, and they just needed something special to be able to give her something special,” she recalled.
“So I thought I should make this for them.”
Tracia White is proud of the work she’s done, and has even been asked to help design a similar maternity dress for black men.
“One of the things that’s been so important about my designs is that I try to create a dress that can just fit in your pocket, but also not so big that you can’t get to it,” she admitted.
“If it’s too big, you can just take it off and put it on your head, and have it in your hand and it will be perfect.”
You just need to find something that fits.
“The white women have a range available to buy and they are happy to discuss the style with customers.
Ms White believes she is making a statement about the need for white maternity wear.”
People are starting to realise, ‘Oh, that is the white, black, brown mother, what’s wrong with that?'” she said