Forget Barbie, bring me Burberry
Once the littlies discover designer labels, shopping will never be the same again. Brigit Grant braves the boutiques with Madison, her fashionista-in-training
INEVER thought it would happen so fast. One minute she was a gurgling tiny mite in a romper suit, the next she was a yelling baby banshee intent on wearing wellingtons with a swimsuit. Of course, I couldn’t argue with my daughter’s logic, as the theme of her attire was entirely aquatic, but arguing with a two-year-old about any aspect of fashion is in itself a very childish thing to do.
Child psychologists are generally disparaging about parents who barter with their kids, not least of all over what to wear. “Be firm and don’t ever offer them a choice,” say the experts. And there lies the rub. For anyone who loves fashion — and I do — “choice” is what it’s all about. Choice is the reason I’ve yet to travel anywhere without paying an excess baggage fine. After all, it is only with a selection of tops, bottoms and shoes that one can hope to coordinate correctly.
Of course, by adhering to this particular fashion commandment, I was completely responsible for Madison’s determination to selfstyle as a toddler, though “freestyle” was really the only way to describe her summer dress/woolly tights/ tiara combination.
No doubt those of you with boys will have had similar battles over sartorial preferences, but then given up and allowed them to wear that Sonic the Hedgehog costume to a function, just for a quiet life.
Thankfully things change. Now at the tender age of six, my daughter is not only happy to be dressed (by me), but she has been drawing her own capsule collection in felt tips. So acute is her interest in fashion that I half expect to see her sitting next to Anna Wintour during London Fashion Week and who knows in years to come she might be designing for Suri Cruise or even Harper Seven Beckham.
Having established herself as the arbiter of toddler taste, Harper is definitely the one to aim for and watch if you want your child to be bang on trend, but as you can imagine it’s a look that doesn’t come cheap. The 2012 statement pieces picked out by her mum included a hooded cape by Burberry (£185), Ruby Lupin trousers (£63) and Bon Ton overalls (£64), all of which she has probably now outgrown, but then they’re so last season it doesn’t matter.
With the cost of Harper’s wardrobe estimated at £3,544.56, following in her Chloe-clad footsteps is not an option for most of us, though it’s amazing how flexible one’s budget can become when your child steps out of the changing room looking edible. Rumour has it that Tartan Turtle in Mill Hill contributed to Harper’s early-stage attire and so we went to look at its spring/summer 2013 collection. “We’re only looking,” I told Madison, but the sight of a Grecian-style summer dress by French label Cherries was all it took to get her into catwalk mode.
Deliberating over whether to try the Wild Fox pink sweatshirt before the Sophie Belle shorts and vest, Madison confessed to charming sales assistant Paula that she liked dresses best, but that was before she noticed a frothy black tutu skirt and a Most Wanted tracksuit. “It’s so soft,” she said, eyes wide with expectation and I had to agree. Well, I’m a mother.
At the risk of undermining those who make their living dictating fashion trends, nailing down exact-
ly what ‘s in and what’s out gets harder every season and this is particularly true of children’s clothing. Unlike adults, kids have the advantage off being cute from the word go and can pull of any combination, so you don’t have to stick rigidly to the 2013 colour theme of yellow, neon pink and orange set against sorbet pastels and metallics.
Brocade is big news, along with 1960s shapes for dresses, softly tailored blazers and glitter for shoes, though I can’t think of a time when glitter wasn’t the rage in kids shoes — at least for girls. For guidance on just how much glitter is de rigueur, go to Brian’s Shoes in Temple Fortune, north west London, where the patient staff carefully measure little feet, so that fashion doesn’t get in the way of a good fit. Madison gets all her ballet shoes at Brian’s and they don’t let her leave the shop with them on, which is an achievement in itself.
When shopping for kids’ clothes, not only is the customer always right, she can also stand on the furniture, wave a sippy cup around and sit on the floor. Understanding a small person’s fashion needs and foibles is second-nature at Joujou and Lucy in Maida Vale, where they stock Tartine et Chocolat and Kenzo.
Woody’s Boyswear, in Whetstone, north London (woodysboyswear. co.uk) makes a point of getting to know what a young man likes before it sets about making him look a million dollars. Graffiti-ing and customising shirts, footwear and more are all part of creating a boy’s individual look.
There is nothing quite like the memory of a meltdown in a department store to make you appreciate the benefits of a home delivery. Next is a favourite of mine and its 2013 collection is full of flowers, notably daisies, on everything from sweatshirts to high-top trainers. There are fewer blooms for the boys, but the stripes on trousers and shirts are spot-on.
H&M runs a good online service and on price it is highly competitive, which is something to consider when growth spurts occur overnight, while you can turn to The Gap when you have one in your wardrobe. If you have a penchant for designer names, however, go to Debenhams, for J by Jasper Conran, John Rocha, Matthew Williamson and Ted Baker clothes, realistically priced, for boys and girls.
For all the ease of the high street, I still like to hunt down unusual clothes and products for Madison. It’s thanks to me that, as a baby, she wore portrait pants of politicians (twistedtwee.co.uk) and bathed in Tiare blossoms.
Recently I’ve discovered Childs Farm organic products, whose cleaning powers have been demonstrated on born-on-the-farm tractor-riding, mucky children — as good as it gets for a cleaning recommendation.
Better still I’ve found stick-onand-play t-shirts for children (littlepunklondon.com). At last, Madison can design her own T-shirt with the stickers supplied, instead of cutting up her own clothes to fulfil her creative needs. Harper Seven watch this space.
As a baby, my daughter wore “portrait pants” of politicians
Madison goes style-spotting Madison’s choice: Sophie Belle shorts and vest Opposite page: F&F pink rose and polka dot dress £10 This page: 1. Next meadow print dress £16 2. Mothercare swimsuit and hat £12 3. Rocha.John Rocha party dress at Debenhams...