Inspiration


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

You might laugh at me when you hear this (my children think it’s hilarious), but I sometimes get choked up by O Canada. A tear has even been spotted once or twice. This patriotic emotion dates back to a powerful moment I experienced ten years ago, and I don’t expect it to ever change.

It was a cold wintry Monday morning, and I was rushing my sweet four-year-old to her kindergarten class, in a daze of exhaustion but eager to show off my new baby daughter in my arms. It was more challenging getting ready with two, but we made it just in time, well bundled against the wind.

After leaving Izzy at her classroom door with a kiss, I was caught in the hallway when the national anthem began to play. I froze and listened, gazing at little Samantha as she gazed back at me.

We had come home just two days earlier from an almost unspeakably wonderful adoption trip to China. Samantha was 9 months old, curious and beautiful, and unbeknownst to her, had just become Canadian. I couldn’t help but wonder how this new identity would take shape for her.

My new Canadian posing for her first Canadian passport photo a few days before leaving China

My new Canadian posing for her first Canadian passport photo a few days before leaving China

I don’t know if it was the exhaustion, the jetlag, or the thought of having just transplanted a child to a new country, but I felt a very strong and unexpected wave of emotion in that frozen moment. Ever since then, I have been unable to listen to O Canada from start to finish without choking up (and singing it with a straight face is still impossible), when I am with my Samantha. That feeling stuck. Nowadays when we’re together and the anthem starts to play, she squeezes my hand and sneaks a curious glance at my face, just to check.

I know that things are far from perfect here, in a number of ways. But everything in life is relative. And anthems aside, on this Canada Day weekend I feel very grateful, as always, to call Canada home. Here’s why:

1. Kindness rules. There are few nations on earth, if any, where racism, ableism and homophobia are less tolerated than in Canada. Yes, we have bigots, but their voices are far from dominant. My children know about racism because they learn about it in school, not because they witness it in their daily lives.

2. Canada is a good place to be a woman. As the mother of three daughters, I know that even though they will face challenges, they live in a society that values them. They have the freedom to contribute and to shape their own futures. And having experienced the end of my marriage just last year, it’s baffling for me to imagine living in a place where women do not have the right to make fundamental choices that will shape their own lives.

3. It’s boring. Clichés aside, it’s true, in a good way. We rarely make the international news headlines. And as my now ten-year-old daughter Samantha replied when I asked her what she liked most about Canada, “there’s no war.” Nuf said.

As a Canadian designer, I’m very proud to make my clothing line here in Toronto where I live, contributing to the local economy, and I’m grateful to have fantastic, supportive customers across the country and beyond. I have met so many other designers and entrepreneurs on a similar path, keeping their production Canadian despite the higher costs, because it just feels right. Thank you for helping make this possible.

A very happy Canada Day to you and yours!
Devorah Miller
http://www.redthreaddesign.ca/

p.s. What do you appreciate about Canada? I would love to hear your thoughts, hope you’ll share.

SONP2013-pantsoff-250x250It’s just as exciting as it sounds, depending on your perspective. I’ve joined Summer of No Pants 2013, a special summer challenge in which the participants commit to making four skirts or dresses in the four weeks leading up to the first day of summer (May 27-June 21). Everyone posts their creations online, and pledges to not wear pants all summer long. I practically live in jeans, so this will be an interesting change.

I love to design and sew, but it’s always for Red Thread. I’ve designed dozens of women’s skirts and dresses in my head, but until now most of them have stayed there. No longer!

For week one I created a pleated skirt from a pair of jeans, and if this interests you, you can check out some images and an online tutorial here.  I’m also posting images of skirts and dresses I love on Pinterest, where I always share my colour and design inspiration. You can follow me there if you like what you see. I’ll be posting my four creations, and my inspiration along the way.

I’m looking forward to taking my pants off, and to sharing my projects with you!

Happy summer,

Devorah
Red Thread Design
Studio Fabric Shop

Here we are on the eve of another new year, ripe with possibilities. There are so many things we can count on experiencing in 2013. There will be surprises, tragedies, and triumphs. There will be love and there will be loss. Some things we will be able to control, and some things we will not.

I am not making resolutions this year, but I AM making some wishes, the way children make wishes, with all of their hearts, and my wishes are for YOU (and for me too). Here goes…

yes

image credit: from artist Lisa Congdon’s 365 Days of Lettering

  1. Bravery. I wish for you the guts to pursue whatever it is that calls you, without delay. Life is short, and a rewarding life demands courage.
  2. An ability to let go of worry and embrace the unknown. A life without anxiety is a much better life. If you can remain calm and open, you’ll be better able to cope with whatever challenges you face, and you won’t waste your energy worrying about hypothetical problems.
  3. Self-acceptance. Trying to be something you’re not is exhausting. I wish for you the freedom to feel comfortable in your own skin and to stop judging yourself or others for not living up to expectations. You’ll feel better, I promise.
  4. Community. Remember that there are amazing people out there, all around you. Help them out whenever you can, and let them help you too.
  5. Gratitude. This might be one of the most powerful things you can do to change your life, immediately, for the better. I’ll start:

Thank you for being on this voyage along with me, and for helping me grow Red Thread from a tiny seed of an idea to a thriving creative enterprise.  Thank you for helping me build this virtual community and for being honest with me about what you love and what you don’t. Everything I make is for you and for your children, and I have so much more to share with you in the year to come.

Happy New Year!

Love,
Devorah
Red Thread Design

Nine years ago today, I met my daughter Samantha.

Meeting your daughter in an office building in China is a tiny bit different from giving birth.

She was 9.5 months old, and not happy to be there. She had just been driven for four hours in the arms of an orphanage worker to meet her new parents, who probably looked to her like space aliens. Her first few minutes in my arms were spent crying and pushing against my chest. Her clothes were soaked with pee from a bursting diaper, and snot was pouring out of her nose. I cried too. I don’t know what I felt more strongly – love or empathy.

Sam cried and cried, with a determined persistence that I would soon learn is a hallmark of her personality. I knew that this was a very healthy reaction, and was grateful to see her tears even as I tried to calm them.

When Sam finally stopped crying, she became very quiet and looked around her intently to assess the situation. By the following morning she was laughing. Her transformation was stunning and quick. Here’s a photo of her the day after we met, right after we signed the legal adoption paperwork.

Sam had obviously been well cared for, and well fed. But still she ate with incredible vigor, laughing while she grabbed the chopsticks in my hand and shoved them into her mouth. She laughed when her daddy threw her up in the air and caught her, again and again.  People in restaurants frequently came over to watch her eat, and to laugh at her. She made us laugh too.

Shortly after we brought Samantha home to Toronto, I started Red Thread.  I started very small, cutting and sewing in my basement during her naptime. Thankfully she was a good sleeper! I loved a Chinese proverb that we had heard throughout our adoption journey, about red threads uniting people who were meant to be together, even across vast distances, and so I named my little business Red Thread Design.

Nine years later, Samantha continues to make us laugh. She loves stuffed animals, graphic novels, and hanging out with friends. Red Thread is a little bigger too, shipping out to children around the world. I try to keep the original inspiration for Red Thread, the proverb about human interconnectedness, at the centre of my business as best I can. Here’s Samantha now, at age nine (below), in a short video about our charitable ‘Love Dress’ project, which is now wrapping up (I have just a few Love Dresses left).  I wonder how she will feel as an adult, looking back and seeing what an inspiration she was to me.