KIDS

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EP Feature.indd - Living Jewels

DESIGNER

KIDS

The rise of the ‘yummy mummy’

has spawned a number of beautiful

designer-clad babies in our midst.

Penny McCormick checks out the rise

of the ‘mini market’.

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fashion

Killah. Opposite page:

Armani Junior.

WINTER 2007 101


Top to bottom: Ermanno Scervino;

Tods; Louis Vuitton.

In the early 1980s, The Official Sloane Ranger Handbook by Peter

York and Ann Barr was a seminal tome, one into which many

dipped for fun or, alternatively, for advice. Turn to the chapter on

baby Sloanes, for example, and you would be confronted with a

list of clothing and accessory labels which, it was considered, were

de rigueur for all nurseries and any self-respecting baby to wear.

Cherub, Petit Bateau, Absorba, Chilprufe, Viyella all formed part of

the baby’s layette, while Harrington squares (rather than nappies)

and Silver Cross pushchairs (‘baby faces you not the traffic’) and

Marmet prams were the items more often than not handed down

rather than acquired on the birth of an offspring.

How times have changed! Yes, Mothercare and Marks & Spencer

are the stalwart suppliers of basics and Babygros for many an infant,

but the last few years have seen a rise in the number of designers who

have realised that the infant market is where it’s at. And we’re not just

talking clothes; perhaps it started with strollers or prams.

Once upon a time strollers were like strollers – small chairs with

wheels – but somewhere in the Noughties strollers suddenly sprouted

accoutrements such as coffee cup-holders, straps and handlebars: the

Bugaboo was born. For people who are not parents (like myself ), a

Bugaboo resembles something astronauts took into space for the first

moon landing, but in bright colours. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy

try the Maclaren stroller by Starck or the mini Mies chair, which comes

in black and white and is two thirds of the size of an actual Mies chair

(but not two thirds of the price – it retails at Dhs14,700).

If you’ve spent that much on a chair, chances are the next logical

step is to transform the nursery. Gone are the frills and friezes

and in are the minimal lines often associated with adults. It’s not

a question of dumbing down for children anymore, but actually

smartening up. Remember when a high chair was a high chair for

keeping baby up near the table? Now it’s a Fleurville Dhs3,491

Calla lily-shaped chair by National Design-winner Yves Behar in

shining polycarbonate with a dishwasher-safe tray.

German furniture maker Living Jewels has designed a range of

ultra-modern furniture for sophisticated kids who know their day

beds from their play pens. The brand is going to make its debut

early next month with a world-wide launch to happen in Dubai.

Cool, sophisticated toys in the playbox (a Prada stainless steel

yo-yo anyone?) and eco-friendly recycled cardboard playhouses

(ecocentric.co.uk) say as much about the parents as the children,

and the rise in designer kids can be traced specifically to the birth of

babies whose parent or parents were designers themselves.

Take the Oeuf baby lounger, which is a minimal bent wire and

canvas-covered contraption. Designed by Sophie Demenge and her

husband Michael Ryan (two New York furniture designers) in an

act of ‘desperation’ after they were given a Fisher Price baby chair,

the Oeuf lounger apparently ‘levitates the infant in artistic purity

and any bouncing is powered solely by the baby’.

Perhaps the same aesthetic propelled Princess Marie-Chantal of

Greece to start designing her own range of babywear. After all, baby

princes and princesses need their own couture line, too, and while

many fashion houses often made special one-off dresses and suits

for wealthy clients, nowadays children have their own collections. “I

love the world of children and to me there is nothing sweeter than

seeing a child dressed as a child,” said Marie-Chantal at the opening

of her first store in the US.

Currently, her clothing range can be found in the UK, Japan,

Europe and the US. The line is characterised by classic fabrics

freshened up with playful colours and patterns for a more spirited

modern look. Having four children of her own, she designed with

them in mind and her collection is for “everyday use, for tea parties

and birthdays, as well as school.”

With the social life of children expanding beyond school and the

nursery, it’s no wonder we are witnessing the rise in designer style for

little girls in particular. Fragrance and jewellery houses are also catching

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on to a lucrative market. In Dubai, for example, Laura Biagiotti’s aptly

named Doll line was launched at a glittering fashion show (for juniors)

in Saks Fifth Avenue and was attended by Biagiotti’s daughter Lavinia,

as well as the Italian ambassador to the region.

While the themes on the catwalk were a cacophony of sunny

blues and sea green skirts, fish adorned T-shirts and

clam-diggers, the audience was mesmerised by the three lines for

the under-fives called Strawberry Fields, Stelle e Stars and Orchidea.

These confections are all included in the burgeoning children’s

department, but the diplomatic presence underpinned the

economic value of such an event.

Likewise, other designers have started baby lines because of

celebrity friendships and 2006 will be remembered for two celebrity

babies whose style both reflected that of their parents.

The much-anticipated photographs of Suri Cruise did not

disappoint. At the wedding of her parents, Tom Cruise and Katie

Holmes, she got to wear specially designed dresses by Giorgio

Armani and for her first ‘close-up’, in Vanity Fair no less, she

modelled dresses by Bon Point and Besos’ Kissy Kissy line.

Brad and Angelina’s daughter, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie-Pitt, on the

other hand is undoubtedly a rock-chick. Her Babygro was über

cool for her HELLO! exclusive and featured a skull and cross bones

design. This sort of music-inspired fashion has been catching on

and ‘rocking’ kids and babies can now wear tour T-shirts of their

parents favourite groups in a downsized version (ebtm.com).

No doubt Madonna’s books for children are in any self-respecting

nursery. Did you realise, for instance, that she has been quietly

writing five books over the past few years, including The English

Roses, Mr Peabody’s Apples, Lotsa de Casha and Yakov and the Seven

Thieves? With Kylie rumoured to be writing her own children’s

fairy tale, no doubt other celebrity mums like Gwen Stefani or Tana

Ramsay will follow suit.

Louis Vuitton, meanwhile, has responded to increasing requests

for children’s items by announcing that it will develop every season

an adult model of shoes in children’s sizes for girls and boys, rather

than launching a children’s collection. These sneakers will be in two

different colours and will be in the Dubai store by this November.

It may only be January now, but no doubt come November these

items will be on several lists for Eid and Christmas presents! ■

Clockwise from top left: Laura

Biagiotti; Magis; Living Jewels.

WINTER 2007 103

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