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Toronto skyline: photo by  John Davidson Photography ©

Toronto skyline: photo by John Davidson Photography ©

Two weeks ago The Economist declared Toronto, my home, to be the best city in which to live, based on a detailed analysis of 50 cities. This wonderful news was announced just as we were receiving a dump of about 25 cm of snow on the cusp of February, the coldest month. This February has been particularly chilly (it’s -14° as I write this, with a wind chill of -23°).

Canada is often near the top of these lists. But is it true?

In my humble opinion, yes, even in February. Okay, maybe not in February.

My sweetheart lives in Lyon, France, a beautiful city. But don’t just take my word for it:

Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even the rooftops are beautiful.

Lyon is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even the rooftops are beautiful.

Sometimes when I visit (not often enough), we travel around France to soak up even more beauty. On a recent flight home from Paris (my first time there in 25 years), I found myself wondering how I would feel this time, arriving home in Toronto.  Would it seem drab compared to Paris?

As I sat in the airport bus (a long-overdue rail link is finally in the works), driving through endless grey suburbs, I thought to myself: “No, I will always love it here.”

Is Toronto the most beautiful city? The most historic? Grand? Colourful? Do we have a winning hockey team? Amazing public transit? Spectacular weather? Nope.

Rankings like the one in The Economist measure facts, not intangibles. And the facts bear out that Toronto is, for the most part, clean, safe, and prosperous. Most people feel secure, and free to live as they choose. Discrimination and violence exist everywhere, but I cannot imagine that there is a big city with much less. Income disparity? Unemployment? Check. Some things are universal.

Toronto is large and diverse enough to have an extraordinary range of activity in the arts, business, sports, food, entertainment, community building, even local industry. My Chinese/Jewish/Canadian children think it’s common to dine on Ethiopian cuisine, dim sum, gyros and roti, and we can walk to all of these from our little house. My income is modest, but my children have access to good schools, and know that they can choose to pursue any path they choose, regardless of their gender or financial status.  I am able to be an artist/entrepreneur without having to worry about things like expensive health insurance or punitive business regulations. It’s not easy, but it’s possible! It’s wonderful to have choices, and in my opinion, that is the key intangible that Toronto offers.

And let’s not forget that snow shoveling is great exercise.

If your kids are anything like my kids, their adrenaline levels have already gone up in anticipation of Halloween, their favourite holiday, now just a few days away.

But what about the stress of having the perfect costume? What’s the best approach, making one or buying one? The clock is ticking…

Two of my children, a.k.a. store-bought Pirate and handmade Wonder Woman, in a battle for costume supremacy

Two of my children, a.k.a. Store-bought Pirate and Handmade Wonder Woman, in a battle for costume supremacy

This morning I was interviewed on CBC Radio’s morning show Metro Morning,* talking about DIY costumes. So yesterday, I did my research by asking the experts (my three daughters) what they thought the advantages were of making your own. Here’s what they said:

1) It’s less expensive (more money left over to spend on candy!).

2) It’s more creative – you can be whatever you want. You don’t have to just choose from what’s available in the store. And even if you want to do something traditional, you can make it look exactly the way you want it to look.

3) It’s a fun activity to do together.

But the advantage they identified as being #1 in their eyes really struck me:

“It’s more special.”

While listing off their costumes from years past, they said that the ones that stuck out the most in their minds, bringing back the strongest Halloween memories, are the ones we made.  We have kept some of these costumes for years, they reminded me, even the simple ones, because they’re special and unique.

Think about the Halloween pumpkin. If we went to the store and chose a pre-carved pumpkin off-the-shelf, would it be as much fun as planning your design, making a big mess, and then posing with your masterpiece? I think not.

But this is not the time for social pressure, and you have enough to worry about. Halloween is about fun; nobody should feel pressured to create an elaborate Pinterest-worthy costume.  If you want to buy one, do. Or you might choose to use some store-bought props and makeup to enhance a DIY costume.  But if you want to do it yourself from scratch, you can!

If you haven’t found the perfect costume yet, and you want to make it yourself, it’s not too late. Here are some suggestions for playful costumes that you can make with minimal investment of time and money:

1) A clear recycling bag with holes cut out so you can wear it + colourful blown-up balloons stuffed inside + a ribbon around your neck = a bag of candy

2) An umbrella with little stuffed animals tied with string to hang around the brim + a raincoat = raining cats and dogs (I demonstrated this one on CBC news, dressing up reporter Trevor Dunn, and he looked terrific).

3) A paper lawn bag + a tiara or crown = the Paper Bag Princess

4) A black suit + cool shades = Men in Black

5) A lab coat + funny glasses, crazy wig, safety goggles, bag of spiders, clipboard, bowtie, beaker (so many possibilities) = mad scientist, entomologist, inventor…

6) Any costume you love + zombie makeup = zombie bride, zombie marathon runner, zombie cat, zombie anything! It’s so much fun to wear zombie makeup.

The internet is bursting with great costume ideas; we made my 11-year-old’s Wonder Woman costume (in the photo) using instructions she found on YouTube, tailoring it to work for us. Whatever you choose to wear this Friday, have fun, be safe, and Happy Halloween!

Devorah Miller
Red Thread Design

* If you want to, you can listen to today’s CBC interview HERE.  The segment about Halloween costumes starts at 29:30.

People lined up around the block and then filled the atrium of Toronto’s MaRS Centre yesterday. The attraction?

Etsy, up close and personal.

A clever business card by FlowerPot Designs

A clever business card by FlowerPot Designs

The paramount online marketplace of handmade and vintage goods has more than 1 million active shops around the world. But while the experience of buying beautiful things online can be fun, even addictive, there’s nothing quite like discovering new treasures with your eyes and your hands.

(For sellers too, by the way, even though it’s wonderful to wake up and find you’ve received a batch of new online orders while you were sleeping, there’s nothing like meeting your customers face to face.)

So in an attempt to promote its Canadian sellers, on September 27, Etsy Made in Canada presented a series of pop-up craft shows in 23 locations across Canada featuring Etsy sellers in their home cities.

At the MaRS Centre I set out with a mission; to discover things that I had never seen before. I squeezed through the crowds searching for things exquisite, quirky, or clever. With 120+ vendors, there was a lot to see. These were the less conventional creations that stood out the most for me:

SISTER VALENTINE hearts & crafts

The charming Francie of Sister Valentine displayed an eclectic collection of handmade goodies, including crocheted fingerless gloves, fabric pouches fashioned like envelopes, fabric dolls, and these wonderful 3-dimensional animal portraits. Every piece she’s crafted is utterly charming. You can find more of her work here.

Whimsical 3-D animal portraits by Sister Valentine

Whimsical 3-D animal portraits by Sister Valentine

FLOWERPOT DESIGNS

Flora Cheung stood behind her knitted cacti knitting nonchalantly, her warm contagious smile welcoming visitors to her table of treasures.  The softest gloves, scarves, booties and accessories beckoned to me with their promises of cosiness. I easily imagined her creations as treasured gifts. I will definitely be treating myself to a pair of her travellers’ mitts pronto! If you like, you can peruse her lovely website here.

Flora of FlowerPot Designs

Flora of FlowerPot Designs

KIRIKI PRESS

Printmaking grad Michelle Galletta spent three years working in Italy before returning home to Toronto in 2012 to create Kiriki Press. The attention to detail she puts into her embroidery kits is simply stunning. Not simply craft kits for children, the beauty of these projects (with varying complexity) makes them attractive to grownups, too. You can see Kiriki’s kits on her website.

A few of the creatures you can make with an embroidery kit by Kiriki Press

A few of the creatures you can make with an embroidery kit by Kiriki Press

APFELSTRUDEL

Lest you think (heaven forbid!) that I am strongly biased toward textile art (I am), I wanted to share the work of a paper/collage artist who loves to use maps and vintage books in surprising ways. A world traveler with a huge collection of vintage maps and ephemera, her work is loaded with humour and adventure. “Up and Down the Thames,” a piece that combines an original 1920s map of London with tiny cutouts of Buckingham Palace guards from a 1940s picture book, was attracting loads of attention on Saturday, and it’s easy to see why. Apfelstrudel is a popular Etsy shop, and you can find it here.

A detail from 'Up and Down the Thames' by Apfelstrudel

A detail from ‘Up and Down the Thames’ by Apfelstrudel

CGMONSTERS

I would like to leave you with a stuffed toymaker who in my opinion has exceptional taste in fabric and makes lovely little monsters for children. But rather than show you her work, which you can see here in her Etsy shop, I share with you a photo of my 4-year-old nephew Benji holding one of her seasonal pieces, a soft skeleton perfect for Halloween! Please don’t be afraid of Benji’s very scary face, it is just for the photo.

Trying to be scarier than the monster

Trying to be scarier than the monster

Thank you for joining me in supporting handmade!

Sincerely,
Devorah Miller
Red Thread Design

p.s. If you want to see all of the vendors at the MaRS Toronto Etsy event, you can check out this nifty lookbook created by Etsy:

The heading for a Toronto Star article about my "creative family" - I was very excited to miss school for a whole day of school to meet with the reporter.

The heading for a Toronto Star article about my mother. I still remember how excited I was to miss school for a whole day to meet with the reporter.

When I was a child, my mother made hand-painted silk scarves for a living. She made them in our house, spreading them out to paint them and then sprinkling them with salt, which shifted as the brightly-coloured dyes dried, creating mesmerizing patterns. She worked late into the night, especially before Christmastime. The production process from start to finish was visible to me and my two sisters, and we often helped out with simple tasks like ironing and packaging. She sold the scarves at craft shows that were full of eager buyers, and I spent a lot of time exploring those shows, meeting other craftspeople and admiring their work.

Now I am older than she was then, I have three children, and I’m a designer/maker too. Sometimes when I’m exhibiting my work at craft shows, as I often do, I meet people who have been doing this since I was a child, and I wonder how they’ve managed to turn handmade production into their life’s work. Is it still possible to support a family in this unusual way today?

I asked Rosemary Thorpe, who with her husband Jerry was at those craft shows of my childhood and is still doing them today, their wooden toy business thriving after more than thirty years. They are living proof that bigger is not always better. They both work on Thorpe Toys full time, making everything in their home-based workshop, using wood cut-offs from local businesses (recycling what would otherwise end up as waste), and have no employees, making only what they can produce themselves. This keeps costs low, so they can keep their toys affordable. The wood is left unfinished, creating a natural look that appeals to environmentalists, do-it-yourselfers, and toxic-toy avoiders (i.e. most parents and grandparents). What a great example of a smart, sustainable handmade business.

Jerry and Rosemary Thorpe in their booth at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto

Jerry and Rosemary Thorpe in their booth at the One of a Kind Show in Toronto

But even if a few smart makers have figured out a formula for their own success, what about the field in general? The world is less conducive to this kind of work today than it once was; many of the goods in our homes and on our bodies are cheaper and more disposable than ever. Not long ago it wasn’t uncommon to knit or sew to save money; now the materials alone are often more expensive than buying a manufactured product. The people who make most of our stuff do so under less-than-ideal conditions, but most of the time we don’t mind. Many people throw things away and replace them without a second thought.

Under these conditions, is handmade doomed? Will people willingly seek out and pay more for something when a cheaper option is so readily available? And even if a customer recognizes the value and greater longevity of a handmade product, in this world of fast and disposable do they even care?

This is an important question for professional artisans. Without customers, there would be no handmade industry. Without handmade and locally-made products, we’d be left with only mass-produced stuff, often homogeneous and on a race to the bottom of the price spectrum, even if people and natural resources are abused along the way.

Am I worried? Not at all. In fact, I expect that demand for handmade and locally-made products will grow, not shrink. Am I a chronic optimist? Absolutely. But here’s why I’m so convinced that handmade has a healthy future:

1)    Buying something made fairly or locally just feels better. Awareness of the benefits of eating locally-produced food has skyrocketed in recent years. Our understanding about the real costs of industrial far-away farming has grown so much, and so too will our awareness of the real costs of dirt cheap far-away production of goods. The more the media reports about the crises arising from environmental and human neglect by some of the worst factories overseas, the harder it becomes for us to turn our backs on this reality.

2)    A desire for unique objects is even stronger in an environment of increasingly mass-produced sameness. Our common desire to wear clothing that expresses who we are and to surround ourselves with special objects that define us (think of the perfect scarf keeping us warm, art on the walls that stirs us, or morning coffee drunk from a special mug) will continue to drive many people to search out handmade work.

3)    Do-it-yourself hobbies are thriving. Knitting, quilting, sewing, woodworking — you name it, it’s growing. Not because it’s cheaper than buying things (it’s not), but because it’s so rewarding. Lots of people are spending their leisure time learning traditional skills and enjoying the feeling of creativity and self-sufficiency that brings. Whether it remains a hobby or grows into a business, the impulse to create is strong. Along with that impulse lives a natural appreciation for the creations of talented others.

4)    We’re hardwired for social connection. When you know something about the maker of your favourite dress, or mug, or belt, that connection adds an extra dimension to your enjoyment of that object. My handmade maple salad bowl bought from the craftsman who made it (Don Stinson, shown below) cost much more than a wooden bowl from Ikea, but my enjoyment of it over the years has vastly overshadowed that of any mass-produced bowl I have ever owned. We can’t easily surround ourselves with only handmade or locally-made objects, but even a few can enhance our sense of connection every day.

Don Stinson makes incredibly beautiful wooden bowls. His son Jesse works with him. Like the Thorpes, they run a thriving family business.

Don Stinson (left) makes incredibly beautiful wooden bowls. His son Jesse works with him. Like the Thorpes, they run a thriving family business centred on handmade production.

Most people love a bargain, and many don’t care how or where things are made. But for those of us who do, I think we’re on the cusp of a burgeoning interest in handmade, with growing numbers of people finding satisfaction in creative enterprise, and growing numbers of customers looking for unique sustainably and ethically-made products.

If you care about handmade, please pass it on!

Happy New Year,
Devorah Miller
Red Thread Design

p.s. You can check out Thorpe Toys at http://www.thorpetoys.com/ and Stinson Studios at http://stinsonstudios.ca/

As I prepare for the opening of the One of a Kind Show & Sale*, which begins next week in Toronto, I’m looking forward to seeing the work of hundreds of other craftspeople, or more broadly, makers; artists, designers, cooks, small-scale entrepreneurs.  It’s energizing being in a room with so many people who have similar aspirations and challenges.  Some people work alone and others have partners or staff who contribute to certain aspects. Some approach this work as art, and others as business, but even though our products and goals vary we have a lot in common.

Potter Sandra Silberman (right) and jeweler Danielle O'Connor enjoyinga  light moment with Sandra's porcelain necklaces at the One of a Kind Show

Potter Sandra Silberman (right) and jeweler Danielle O’Connor enjoying a light moment with Sandra’s porcelain necklaces at the One of a Kind Show

Many people who appreciate handmade goods wonder about the lives of the people who make them.  For those wonderful people who support us and are genuinely curious about this unusual way of making a living, here are my completely subjective top ten facts about career craftspeople:

1. It’s a tough way to make a living.

Sometimes the price tags on handmade goods seem high, but when you factor in the labour and skill, and the material and overhead costs involved in producing things this way, profits tend to be slim. While we are occasionally blown away by stories of artists or designers striking it rich, the vast majority make do with incomes that are modest – and that is putting it politely. Some of us supplement our incomes through teaching, adding a wholesale element to our businesses, or doing other work part-time. Some of us draw upon an entrepreneurial passion to squeeze the maximum possible benefit from our creative efforts. Any way you approach this work, it’s a challenging ride.

2. Most of the time, we love what we do.

Most people know the joy of creating something with their own hands, or conceiving of something and then watching it come to fruition. For many of us it feels like a privilege to be able to live a creative life, and despite the challenges, we don’t take that feeling for granted. It’s a thrill to create something and then see others enjoying it.

Ross Stuart makes tin can banjos and ukuleles that sound fantastic. You won't find anything this original at the mall.

Ross Stuart makes tin can banjos and ukuleles that sound fantastic. You won’t find anything like this at the mall.

3. We have a high tolerance for risk and ambiguity.

People who prefer to walk down a clear, linear path in their lives do not often choose to be artists or craftspeople. It’s a topsy-turvy world, and you never know what will happen next. We need to be brave enough to take risks with our work and to make mistakes, and smart enough to learn from them. Last year Forbes Magazine named “a tolerance for ambiguity” as “the one key trait for successful entrepreneurs” and I think that easily applies to artists and makers as well.

4. We’re jealous of your paycheque, but not enough to quit.

Once in a while, when our customers spend large amounts of money with ease, we feel a tiny bit envious of their financial security.  Ironically, some of us could not afford to buy our own products if they were made by others (a reality that we sometimes overcome by trading goods with one another).  But most of us feel that the freedom to direct the course of our work lives creatively and with an entrepreneurial spirit wins out over the security of a steady paycheque.

5. We have a strong sense of community.

The camaraderie that develops at craft shows is unbeatable. For most artists and craftspeople, work is quiet, focused, and solitary or in small groups. Bring hundreds of us together, and we’re an instant community. Give us a crisis and we will work together to overcome it.  I have witnessed collections taken up by strangers for fellow show exhibitors who have suffered a great personal or financial loss, people rushing to help rescue artwork from a collapsing booth, and generous sharing of tools, supplies, and labour.  When the show is done, we celebrate our successes and count our losses together.

6. We’re vulnerable to theft.

As the audience for handmade goods has grown, so has the frequency of knockoffs. On sites like Etsy, for example, where many craftspeople sell their work, there have been several documented cases of goods being rampantly copied and sold as original handmade pieces. This image from the Etsy website shows twelve sellers of a virtually identical necklace, with eleven of the sellers shipping from China and all claiming that the necklace is handmade. I wonder who designed the first one. There are many cases of larger companies copying the work of small-scale artists without any acknowledgment or compensation, and it’s a tough battle to fight.

etsy copying

Etsy sellers who are upset with the growing number of knockoffs on the site have been creating product ‘treasuries’ like this one to illustrate their concern.

7. We’re sensitive.

If you declare to your best friend that you think our work is ugly or overpriced and we are standing right next to you, we can hear you and our feelings will be hurt. And if you try to haggle with us over price, we will be offended. Would you ask your dentist or accountant for a discount? For many of us, this is the way we earn money to support our families. And like everyone, we want our work to be valued.

8. We’re tough.

If a storm damages our display, we’ll fix it on the spot with whatever materials we can find. A challenging year for sales? We’ll design something new, or reach out to our customers in different ways. Tenacity is the norm in the world of handmade, and I’m constantly impressed by the grit and determination of my fellow makers.

9. We like media attention.

Even those of us who are shy appreciate having our work featured in the media. For a large company, being featured in a magazine’s list of “fabulous finds” is likely one of countless PR activities, but for a small-scale maker it can have tremendous impact. If you work for a media outlet that promotes products, consider promoting handmade to your audience. The spin-off benefits of promoting small can be big, benefiting both makers and consumers.

10. We appreciate our customers deeply.

Even though we chose to do this for a living, we couldn’t do it without our customers. When you support a maker by buying their work, you are helping to create the right conditions for more good work to be created. How do we show our appreciation for this support?  We endeavour to make art or to design products that will give you enjoyment, value and pleasure.  We listen to you and try to create pieces that you will love. And in a world where so much is cheaply manufactured and disposable, we work to create things of real quality. We appreciate you deeply for making this possible.

Sincerely,
Devorah Miller
Red Thread Design
Red Thread Design will be at the One of a Kind Show in booth R-30

*The One of a Kind Show and Sale takes place from November 28-December 8, 2013 in Toronto. More information is available on the show website

You can see Ross’s tin can instruments at http://www.thegreatmush-uke.com/ or visit him at the One of a Kind Show in booth X-24

Sandra’s beautiful “Dotti Potts” porcelain can be found at http://www.dottipotts.com/ or at the show in booth R-32

You can’t see any of Danielle O’Connor’s gorgeous jewelery in this post, but you can check it out at http://danielleoconnorjewellery.com/ or in booth T-33

I’ve been back from Paris for a month now, and I still have a delicious taste in my mouth. What a feast! Of course I couldn’t help but notice how much gorgeous children’s clothing there was. My first post on this topic included four shops, and today I’m happy to share four more with you. These shops all have some wonderful things, ranging from friendly and affordable to pricey and ever-so-precious.

Soeur's St-Germain shop is a treat for older girls with more sophisticated tastes

Soeur’s St-Germain shop is a treat for older girls with more sophisticated tastes

I was quite taken with Soeur, a shop that caters to girls aged 10-16. How delightful to see a collection for this age range that is stylish, well made, and — dare I say it? — age appropriate.  The pieces on display for Fall 2013 reminded me of the luscious corduroy and plaid preppy designs I lusted after at age 13, so sophisticated and chic, yet soft and comfortable. Their website lists three locations; I visited the St-Germain shop at 88 rue Bonaparte. The prices are a bit intimidating — for example, the cream-coloured sweater below is priced at €135 (about $180 USD), but it has a luxurious feel, and seems to be of very good quality (and this is Paris, where everything seems pricey to me). Founded by two sisters with a strong design pedigree, this is a strong brand whose corduroy pants and soft sweaters had me wondering “could I possibly fit into this?”

Drool-worthy sweaters at Soeur

Drool-worthy sweaters at Soeur

I can hardly discuss children’s clothing in Paris without mentioning Petit Bateau, one of the best-known and most beloved French clothing lines for both children and adults. I strolled past several locations in Paris (there are 164 shops in France, and many more internationally) and was amused to see that the windows looked virtually identical, thanks to strong branding. The line is made in France, and is expensive, but very appealing to those who like sophisticated, classic pieces.  On the U.S. site you can see the whole collection easily, in English.

At Petit Bateau, the Fall 2013 collection includes classic liberty prints, coloured corduroy and soft plaid, a very popular combination right now in Paris.

At Petit Bateau, the Fall 2013 collection includes classic liberty prints, coloured corduroy and soft plaid, a very popular combination right now in Paris.

If you prefer something that’s both more playful and easier on the wallet, you might like Du Pareil au même (DPAM). This year DPAM opened its 600th store, reflecting its popularity and accessibility. Designs are bright and childlike, with bold use of colour, and prices are very reasonable. While walking through one of their shops, it also struck me that this clothing was designed for comfort, with lots of knits and comfy shapes. The English language website is here.

French children's chain DPAM is bright, cheerful and affordable. Does a three-year-old always need to look sophisticated?

French children’s chain DPAM is bright, cheerful and affordable. Does a three-year-old always need to look sophisticated?

Did you notice in the photo above that the window of DPAM includes cards that list the prices of each item on display? Another Paris shop that does that is Tartine et Chocolat, at the higher end of the price spectrum.  This line is very precious, and to my eye, uptight; it was hard to imagine children playing in these clothes, but they would look lovely at a wedding. Dresses start around €90 ($120 USD) and go up from there, with fancier dresses in the hundreds. When I stepped inside, the first thing I saw was cashmere, and the first thing I smelled was snootiness. While I can easily appreciate beautiful, well-made clothing, this line was a little too conservative and precious for my sensibilities. I watched their Fall/Winter 2013 video with my children, and we all agreed that the children in the video look uncomfortable and sad. This is a classic Paris children’s shop with some beautiful things and a devoted clientele, but is not really my cup of tea.

The Tartine et Chocolat boutique on St-Germain is a temple of luxury for babies and children, but in a city so rich with luxury goods, I found it uninspiring.

The Tartine et Chocolat boutique on St-Germain is a temple of luxury for babies and children, but in a city so rich with luxury goods, I found it conservative and uninspiring.

Paris abounds with wonderful children’s shops. At times, I felt I was discovering a new one around every corner. While there were several things I saw repeatedly, such as delicate Liberty print blouses, plaid dresses and skirts, and luxurious collared coats, there was enough variety to satisfy different tastes, and although prices were generally high, it was possible to find some wonderful pieces without breaking the bank. I hope you’ve enjoyed my little (admittedly biased) reviews, and would love to hear your suggestions for great children’s finds in Paris!

À plus tard,
Devorah

Red Thread Design

Ah, Jacadi. So international, yet so quintessentially French!

Ah, Jacadi. So international, yet so quintessentially French!

Last week I had the good fortune to spend five scrumptious days in Paris, at the end of a two week trip to France. But even though I had put Red Thread on a brief pause to soak up this stunning change of scenery, I could not resist scouring the city for beautiful children’s clothing. I was curious to see how Parisian children are dressed, and wondered if I might find some inspiration there. Inspiration was everywhere, of course! This will be a brief introduction, and I’ll post more discoveries in the coming weeks. First, here are a few lines that left the strongest impression on me.

CdeC shop, Paris

The CdeC shop at 93 rue du Bac in the 7eme is like a tiny jewel. I wonder if this lovely shop could accommodate even a single stroller.

I was pleasantly shocked at the abundance of gorgeous children’s shops, from the tiniest shop I’ve ever seen, CdeC by Cordelia de Castellano, to the endless beautifully-styled rooms of Bonpoint.

The CdeC by Cordelia de Castellano shop at 93 rue du Bac was not on my destination list – I stumbled upon it and was delighted by its diminutive size. This is only one outlet of many, and the line is very traditional and precious, like many in France. Their website has a beautiful little video showing the photo shoot for their Fall Collection, just as precious as the clothing that’s featured.

Much larger and in a similar (high) price bracket is the legendary store Bonpoint. Housed in a stunning building at 6 rue de Tournon in the 6eme, Bonpoint is a visual feast with numerous small rooms revealing its delectable displays covering more than 10,000 square feet, with a stunning cafe and courtyard to boot. If you visit, I dare you to try to keep your mouth politely closed while perusing this temple of luxury for children. The web link above also features a stunning little video, in case you enjoy that sort of thing (I do).

A wall in the grand entrance hall at Bonpoint provides a graphic display of the Fall collection for girls

A wall in the grand entrance hall at Bonpoint provides a graphic display of the Fall collection for girls

Much of the high-end clothing I saw was very traditional, with an abundance of Liberty prints, delicate blouses, and classic cuts in luxurious fabrics. One of the most traditional French lines is Jacadi, and I really enjoyed perusing this collection, as it manages to be both elegant and unstuffy. Jacadi shops are found worldwide, so if it floats your boat it’s easy to find, at a price.

And now for something completely different: do you prefer lots of colour, Asian design, more modern shapes?  If so, you might love Petit Pan, as I did. This line was created through a collaboration between a Chinese kite designer and a Belgian artist, and includes clothing, toys, home decor, printed fabrics and accessories, with a strong focus on products for babies and young children.

Visiting shops in Paris in August is not ideal, as many are either closed or busy switching over their inventory to prepare for the new season. I caught Petit Pan full of cardboard boxes, but that not dimish my joy at this discovery one bit.

Visiting shops in Paris in August is not ideal, as many are either closed or switching over their inventory to prepare for the new season. I caught Petit Pan full of cardboard boxes, but that did not diminish my joy at this discovery one bit.

Classic styles and luxury goods are very popular in Paris, so I wasn’t surprised to find children’s clothing reflecting the same interest. But the abundance impressed me, as did the prices. In Part Two I’ll talk more about the variety of styles available at different price points. In the meantime, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions of great spots you’ve found in Paris, I’d love to hear them!

À la prochaine,
Devorah

Red Thread Design