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An Expanding Wardrobe

Designers are clambering to create styles for the pregnant Sarah Jessica Parker.

April 30, 2002|ANNE BRATSKEIR | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NEW YORK--Will HBO's saucy "Sex and the City" have to change its name to "Sex and the Kiddie?"

Apparently not.

News of star Sarah Jessica Parker's pregnancy--she is expecting a baby with husband Matthew Broderick in early fall--had fans wondering if lovesickness would be replaced by morning sickness in the show's once smoldering story line.

Initially, HBO, was, er, mum on the subject, but a spokeswoman announced last week that Parker's "pregnancy will not be a story line." The show's production, which had been suspended on April 10 for four weeks because of the pregnancy, is expected to resume May 6, and the airdate has been moved to July from June.

Still, there is speculation about how the diminutive Parker, 37, playing freewheeling sex columnist and fashion plate Carrie Bradshaw will reconcile her high-living and high-fashion profile with a growing belly.

Perhaps the show's writers plan to disguise the obvious and opt for a Julia Louis-Dreyfus solution to pregnancy (the "Seinfeld" star carried shopping bags and gift boxes to camouflage her belly). Maybe they'll dismiss it altogether a la Jane Leeves in "Frasier," whose obviously burgeoning belly was chalked up to weight gain.

Postings on a "Sex and the City" Web site offer support for the star but pose the fashion problem many are pondering. One fan wrote, "I think it's great! She's really going to look cute being pregnant, but it's really gonna put a 'kink' in some of those strange outfits she wears."

Not to mention the cramp in her footwear. Pregnancy and sky-high stilettos don't seem like sole mates, but as Carrie Bradshaw, Parker seems more committed to her size 61/2 Manolo Blahniks than to her relationships with men. It's as difficult to imagine Bradshaw shelving her shoes as it is to think of her trading in her Cosmos for beakers of milk. Are there Birkenstocks in her future?

"Oh, my God, no," exclaims Cindy Weber Cleary, the fashion news director of InStyle magazine. "I wouldn't put her in a towering high heel, but a beautiful high-stacked heel will distribute her weight."

The folks at Manolo say it will be shoe business as usual. "She's such a small girl to begin with that she can wear high-heeled stilettos until the end of the pregnancy," predicts company president George Malkemus.

"Your feet change a lot during pregnancy, and if you accommodate that change by wearing flats, you might not be able to get into your shoes again. I think Sarah will take the Chinese binding approach." But if she doesn't or can't, says Malkemus, "she can wear our kitten heels or mules." The company would even design a special maternity shoe for the actress, he said.

Manufacturers of maternity clothes also are clambering to give Parker, whom Steven Cojocaru, People magazine's West Coast style editor, calls "America's fashion muse," anything she wants. "This is a woman who is completely fashionable and doesn't want to compromise her style just because she's expecting," says Carrie Estok, a spokeswoman for A Pea in the Pod maternity boutiques. She can picture the actress in a pair of trendy Seven jeans with a built-in underbelly band and a teal silk chiffon one-shouldered blouse. "She's going to look fabulous in that," Estok gushes.

At L'Attesa, another maternity clothing company, spokeswoman Jill Blau says, "I called her publicist and told her that we would love to come and do a personal fitting and design special things for her that no one else has." Blau envisions Parker in the company's halter sweater top, Gucci-like lace pants, Chloe-like capris and Prada-like wrap blouses.

But "like" it or not, maternity wear manufacturers will have to get in line behind the real deals. Top designers, such as Roberto Cavalli, whose luxury fabrics and sizzling wife-of-the-rock-star styling were immortalized in one episode of the show, are virtually frothing to take Parker on as a pregnant client. "Sarah Jessica will be more beautiful than ever, and she will look more chic and elegant than ever," says the Italian designer. "She is a woman with a strong personality, and with the pregnancy she will give a special twist to her look. I can't wait to create a special wardrobe for her."

And at least one observer of pop culture thinks the move to hide the pregnancy is the way to go.

Robert Thompson, a professor of media and popular culture at Syracuse University says, "So many people tune in for that one half-hour fantasy that makes them think about if they hadn't gotten married, didn't have a baby, didn't own a snow blower."

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