He notes that quality and beauty marked his formative years, most pronounced in the special relationship he had with his parents. “They were always challenging my imagination,” he says. “We would close our eyes and daydream together. My mother would bring to life travels around the world, from Ginza in Tokyo to Prado in Madrid, without us having to leave our home.” He recalls the games—Gamin, Snakes and Ladders and other English toys—and the stories of Tutankhamun, King Henry, Christopher Columbus and Warhol, that his mom (who he dubs Mary Poppins) would relay whisking him across centuries and continents with a turn of phrase.
Those precious memories of colorful places inspired and fueled his path to create Papinee, a pledge to give that journey to others through heirloom quality toys built to at once inspire, delight and educate. Suj, who’s worked as a brand consultant for labels like Tod’s, Dunhill and Chopard, gathered 31 artists and 28 ambassadors to bring this concept to life. “It’s been a labor of love and so much fun for a group of individuals who love art and incredible quality, whilst wanting to make a difference,” Suj says.
“We want to make toys you can keep your whole life—for dreamers of all ages.” The collection of artisanal plush toys and companion storybooks are steeped in history, art and culture: The sheep was inspired by Turkey and Ottoman architecture; the horse is reminiscent of the palace of Versailles and Louis XIV; the deer is clearly an homage to street art culture in New York City. The company also makes a priority of giving back, sharing art and culture, working with organizations from all around the world. “It’s the education of global ideas and incredible objet d’art, both child-safe and universally fun. We believe in that gift.”
Holidays are approaching fast! Besides gifts, it’s time to pick out holiday outfits for those yearly family portraits or holiday cards. One of our favorite go-to haute-labels is Little Miss Galia, made for the coolest, cutest, most fashion-forward little girls. From the funky leopard tights to the sequin covered tee, Little Miss Galia separates are definitely must-haves! This week we got to catch up with the label’s founder, Alia Charvel. She gives us the scoop of what it takes to design clothing for young girls, her inspirations and what to expect for her upcoming collection for Spring 2015.
Little Miss Galia was named after your daughter-is your daughter’s personality reflected in the line? Has it changed with her as she grows and builds her character?
The line is a reflection of Galia’s personality, cool yet girly. By age three, she was wrapping mannequins with fabrics and pins and making her own designs. She is four years old now, and the more she grows the greater the influence she has on my work. Now Galia’s starting to tell me what she wants to see in the line! The evolution of the brand is really reflected in the SS15 collection.
For me, the color and the kind of fabrics define the path of each new collection. Galia’s influence is seen throughout the line, from the color stories to the cuts and folds of the fabric.
My daughter has a strong influence on me even when it comes to choosing a color palette. While she doesn’t directly determine what colors make the season’s collection, I look to her for color inspiration. I always like to see what colors she paints her nails because she has a knack for picking future color trends!
How do you distinguish your line from others in the market?
I work hard to translate current trends from women’s fashion into pieces for the little ones. My brand is unique, creating timeless looks that are current yet classic at the same time.
Were you a super-fashionable kid? What’s your style now?
I’ve always loved fashion and have dressed myself since I can remember. I remember wearing my mom’s sweaters even though they would come down to my knees. Oh, and she had this great black hat that I loved to wear them with! I was always trying to dress like an adult when I was a kid. I don’t know that I have a defined style. While I enjoy fashion, I always put my own clean and minimalistic spin on current trends.
When designing specific pieces how do you go about mixing materials and making patterns that are trendy yet stylish? What materials do you like to work with? Why?
The color and the different fabrics that I pick for each season are the two factors that define the path of the collection. Overall I like clean shapes and non-flashy fabrics. I’ll take a top from my fall collection and make it an open back for my spring line. Sometimes these uniquely reimagined designs end up becoming my statement pieces. I love tweeds because they have such a stylish feel. I like any fabric that has its own personality. For example, the animal themed fabrics from my fall 2014 collection were woven just beautifully. I also use vegan leather a lot because it adds some edge to the pieces.
Do moms provide with feedback on your designs? How do you go about incorporating what parents want into the cool fashionable approach?
Yes, I love feedback! I always listen to what my customers, especially their daughters, have to say about my work.
What did you do before this? What’s your background?
My background is in graphic design, and I have a degree in fashion as well. Before Little Miss Galia, I started a women’s clothing line under my name. That line was only sold in Mexico City. We were in our third season when I had Galia. I found it difficult to continue the line with my new role as a mom. Two years after she was born, I started Little Miss Galia to combine the two things that I love the most–my daughter and fashion.
What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? Where do you spend it?
Winter is my favorite season. I love the cold weather, the Christmas trees, and the winter clothes. In Mexico we have a lot of traditions. My favorites are the posadas, or the big gatherings and parties held before Christmas each year. Galia gets so excited about Santa-it’s priceless! Overall, I just want to be with my family, in my hometown, or where I live in Monterrey.
What do we have to look forward to for spring 2015?
Spring 2015 is super special for me because it’s back to basics. I created another women’s line using the same fabrics and styles as I did for Little Miss Galia. My concept is for mothers and daughters to dress alike without compromising style or practicality. I use the same fabrics and similar designs for both. For me, spring 2015 is a more polished collection. Think plenty of tweed, pastel colors with metallic accents, and statement pieces like open back dresses, and basics that work with everything. I really hope you like it!
Who would not want to cuddle up in a knit piece? As the weather chills we decided it was an ideal time to spotlight Lindsay Degen, Brooklyn-based designer of what is all the rage in babywear: babyDEGEN. Lindsay’s newest line (coming on the tails of her successful adult line DEGEN), slightly over a year old itself, is chock-full with hats, separates and booties to keep those tiny head to toes toasty. Irresistible, eye-catching, beautifully detailed are just a few of the superlatives we would use to describe the clothing and accessories crafted for infants to 24 months. As we chatted with Lindsay we discovered her collaborative style, what drives her and how her knack for keeping classic knitwear current, wearable and all the rage lead to her taking on baby apparel!
Some very exciting things are happening for you as a designer right now! Congratulations on winning the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award in January and being featured by Vogue editor, Jorden Bickham, as one of her baby-sized fashion obsessions! How has the recent transition from DEGEN to babyDEGEN been overall?
Thank you! It has been great. It’s funny how making the exact same products baby sized changes the appeal completely. I think people see DEGEN as kind of out there, not wearable. The same people have definitely been dressing there children in babyDEGEN which is just a scaled down version. I love working in the baby market. I find it a lot more fulfilling. Seeing the garments on sweet, cute babies is the best.
You have said in other interviews that you wanted to keep the “cute” in baby apparel is that the biggest motivation behind babyDEGEN?
A lot of the other lines out there right now are very chic, minimal, and lux- in cashmere and neutral colors. That stuff is too serious for me. I prefer to dress babies in color and pattern. I think when you have an adorable baby wearing color and pattern you smile at them. Babies need to be smiled at.
What have been the most challenging and the most appealing aspects of designing for a much younger demographic?
The most challenging part is knowing what moms and dads want in apparel from a functionality standpoint. I do not have a child so I learn things from parents every day about what they want. It turns out its always more cardigans and layer-able clothes.
What are some of the most valuable lessons that you learned from RISD and Central Saint Martins where you studied?
I think the most important things I’ve learned from both schools is that the personal relationships you make during school are the most helpful part of school. I work with a silk screener, web designer, fellow knitter, and hand drawn animator still to this day who I met at school. We all help each other out.
For your Spring 2013 collection of DEGEN you collaborated with Converse to create platform shoes based on children’s roller skates! How did that collaboration come about? Did that start your wheels turning for baby apparel or more specifically for the adorable knit baby booties?
I designed those Converses as a part of that collection and just reaching out to Converse to see if they wanted to do it. They were immediately really interested and easy to work with. I think all of my designs sort of have a childlike feel. It was really my mom who pushed me to go into the baby market.
We read you started knitting at any early age, after a gift of knitting needles from your grandmother! Is there a piece you created very early on that you keep today or would like to pass down someday? Do you have a piece from the most recent babyDEGEN collection that is a personal favorite?
I did! I started to knit when I was 3. I have, here in my studio, the first scarf I ever made. It still stays here as inspiration. I tend to not like anything I make but then when I look back on it I feel more proud. My favorite pieces from the season are the booties and hats. The accessories are so playful and functional. I love the idea of the shearling sole of the booties. I wish I had some slippers like that!
We wouldn’t mind a pair either!! Your studio is located in Brooklyn Navy Yard, what are some of your favorite haunts in the neighborhood you can walk to even without booties?
The Navy Yard is actually a pretty desolate place so we usually step out for lunch. My favorite spot nearby is Brooklyn Roasting Co on Flushing. We also have a great supermarket that does packed lunches and deli sandwiches called Fresh Fanatic.
Can you share any locations where you draw inspiration for some of your really bright and eye-catching designs, like the baby eyeball pants?
The most inspiring space for me is on my balcony over-looking Manhattan. We have a great view. I also get a lot of inspiration from my maker friends. We all are constantly influencing one another.
Do you have any advice for designers that are starting out or trying to transition or branch out in their own lines?
My only advice is to take it day by day, enjoy the roller coaster, and when things are going really well celebrate.
Babesta scored a backstage pass with a brand that’s been rockin’ the cradle since 2003 with a top-of-the-charts kids’ fashion line.
What’s the playlist of your closet? If you’re a fan of hip baby tee company, Rowdy Sprout, your rotation might include Johnny Cash, Sublime, Jimi Hendrix, Blondie, Bruce Springsteen—and lots of Grateful Dead and Dylan. California native Laura Angotti, the brand’s founder and self-proclaimed “hippy at heart,” has been rocking the kids’ fashion world with her band tees since 2003. Formerly an art installer (she used to hang classics on the walls of everywhere from the Guggenheim to the New York Historical Society), Angotti got an opportunity to appease her love for fashion. Ten years ago, at the behest of a friend, she says, “I made 26 iron on transfer band tees.” She was excited by the idea of shaking up the very pink and blue baby world with something more edgy. Her concept quickly made its way up the fashion charts, and now a decade later, the hits keep coming.
We got to chat with Angotti about what’s new at Rowdy Sprout, her new collection “Unplugged” and why, when other trends come and go, the music always plays on.
Were you ever in a band? OMG I have serious musical envy—I’ve never been in a band and don’t play an instrument. I sing, but not well!
If you ever started a band, what would be your band’s name? The name of my band would be “The Blistered Nipples.” We’d play a mix between folk and punk rock. I would be a singer/guitar player. We would definitely hit small venues all over the world—Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland, NYC, and all over USA.
OK, you’ve been making band tees for a decade. Music changes a lot in 10 years. Does musical taste in fashion change? It’s funny because the truth is the same bands are still my best sellers. ACDC, Beatles, anything with Grateful Dead. I constantly am searching for new bands and new licenses but it’s harder than you would imagine to find the people who have the authority to license merch. And then you come across a lot of companies that do everything in house and won’t work with anyone else which is a real bummer.
How has Rowdy Sprout changed over the years? The longer I do this, the more seriously the bands and merch companies take me. At first it was really hard to get bands and companies to give me license rights. Over time it’s gotten a little easier but unfortunately the bands and companies are getting harder and harder to work with. I have found that I have to work five times as hard to get the same amount of shirts approved. However, over the years, I have also created a much better product than what I first started with—lots of variety in color and style. I also now have two children which has made a huge difference in my design. In fact, my daughter has inspired me to create a whole new look for girls (coming spring ’15!)
This season, you launch your new Unplugged line–how did that come about? I’m so excited about Rowdy Sprout Unplugged. The bands are great but many have gotten harder and harder to work with. Unplugged was originally started so I could have something that I have complete control over. I love a good tee shirt and vintage inspiration is always big for me. Of course, I also design things out of need in the marketplace. The sweatpants were created because I simply can never find cool sweats for my kids. I think comfort is key for kids and why not look cool at the same time?
Why do you think it’s so important for kids to be exposed to music? I think music shapes us from a very early age. I have memories of music that are almost more palpable than any other memory. Like chocolate, I think music is one of the finer things in life and very important to share with your children!
What do you listen to at home? We listen to a lot of everything. My husband is the DJ of the household mostly! We listen to Spotify all the time and get lots of new music from there. Our current favorite song is by Lord Huron “Ends of the Earth” It also happens to be in my kids’ favorite movie “Walking With Dinosaurs.”
If you could meet any musician, dead or alive, who would it be and why? Easy, that’s Bob Dylan! Lyrical genius.
Ready to decorate the playroom? Or, for city dwellers, define a cozy and stylish spot in the room where your toddler can set up shop. We’re crazy about the Cubino chair and loveseat by Monte! It’s the perfect perch from which to read, play or relax, meshing seamlessly with a sophisticated and modern interior. The chair is made of thick durable foam covered with a soft durable microsuede. Add a shelf of books and voila! Shop Monte at Babesta.
We’re totally stoked to welcome Quinn & Fox to the fall lineup at Babesta! We are smitten with their hand screened tees and sweatpants with the adorable and quirky circus prints! The company, founded in 2013 by self-described “parents of two curly haired girls,” works with artists to design their funky graphics, and the tees and sweats are organic and made from scratch in California. And, per the kids who wear it, it’s super comfy to boot!
Today’s rockers aren’t your grandmother’s rockers. They’re sleek, modern and can work as easily in nurseries as they can in living rooms. And gliders, once large, clunky eye sores, are now high style contemporary nursery-musts, available in tweed, micro suede and leather—some even go so far as to kick back and recline.
Choosing between a host of good options may make decision-making even harder of course. Tribeca Pregnancy and Parenting Education Director Erica Lyons confirms, “There’s no real difference for soothing a child,” when choosing between a glider and rocker. But for families with toddlers, she adds, gliders have an added benefit: “Gliders don’t rock on little hands—but as long as mom is aware of no little fingers under the rocking chair, either is fine.”
Ralph Montemurro, co-owner of Monte Design Group, a family owned Canadian company founded on the concept of locally manufactured chic chairs, gives his own take. “A glider is great because it is a quiet, stable option that looks great in any room—and the glider-recliner gives you that and the ability to put your feet up and lay back. A rocker, on the other hand, is a classic choice because of its timeless style and design, and, with no moving parts, can last generations.”
Montemurro says he and his wife Michelle started Monte Design after successfully identifying a void in the market, and notes, designing a better nursery chair wasn’t easy. In fact, they made 40-50 prototypes of the original Luca glider (named after their third child) before going to market. Since then, they’ve been manufacturing gliders and rockers in Canada, without seeing a trend in preference between gliding and rocking. It seems in the end, it comes down to personal preference and aesthetic taste.
So, what do you say? Are you going to rock or glide?
Whatever you choose, we salute you.
Some questions to ask after you’ve decided to rock or glide
Is it easy to clean? Is it comfortable? Does it fit in with my decor? Is it easy to get out of (not too low)? Where is it made? How is it made?
Whether on a onesie or a national ad campaign, Swedish designer Cassandra Rhodin deftly pulls from the beautiful, quirky fantasy world she’s envisaged, replete with anthropomorphic animals and vintage references, served up with a modern twist. Wielding her pen she knows how to entice and entertain, possibly a genetic talent passed down from her great grandfather, circus king Brazil Jack. Though her heritage and own childhood inspire, when it comes to designing her children’s wear label Mini Rodini, Rhodin notes, “My biggest inspiration definitely comes from hanging out with my two kids. Their imagination is unbelievable.” Fall ’13 is arguably her strongest collection to date, and, we hear, Rhodin is growing the label from kids’ wear into home goods. We were psyched to sit down with ringleader Rhodin and hear the ballyhoo on the brand.