Welcome Our 'Best in Show' Spring 2009 Newcomers: Laughing Out Loud and Saurette
This season there was a surplus of terrific new collections at Children's Club held October 5-7, 2008 in New York. After much back and forth, I narrowed my choices down to two very different lines. I kept asking: "Which one?" How could I choose? Both collections met the criteria for "Best in Show": Shapes that allow movement while enhancing a child's body; a feeling for color that acknowledges trends yet reflects the designer's sensibility; and we look for someone who understands that a collection must work as a whole - not a gathering of individual pieces - to succeed at the retail level. Both lines exceeded those standards, and more. Each collection possessed that intangible "It" quality, that sparkle, that made it a winner.
Cole's LAUGHING OUT LOUD is a freewheeling sportswear line of modern, vibrantly colored Pima cotton knits and wovens. Kanouse's employs a palette of soft neutrals and pastels sparked with deep blue for SAURETTE her collection of elegant girls' dresses and separates.
Welcome to the children's market!
"BEST IN SHOW" NEWCOMER FOR A GIRLS' AND BOYS' COLLECTION: LAUGHING OUT LOUD
With so many lawyers turning to the arts, I'm starting to think lawyer/designer is taking the place of model/actress. Cole, who grew up in a family of attorneys in Lima, Peru, received her degree in international law then finished her studies with a Masters in Finance from Brandeis University in Boston. After ten years of work in the financial industry, she gave birth to her son Sebastian, now three, (the line is named for his contagious laughter) and found herself itching to return to an early obsession: fashion design. "As a little girl I was passionate about clothing. I worked with a local seamstress who interpreted my sketches into finished garments. When I began looking for clothing for my first son, [Sebastian now has a brother, Marcel, 7 months old] I discovered a missing component in the market: fun clothes made with great quality fabrics. That started the ball rolling."
Cole describes her line:
"My designs so far have been drawn from my Latin heritage. My personality is pretty bold and together this has given me a sense of fashion that's different from the conservative plaid shirt and jeans. For Spring 2009, I drew inspiration from the distinctive colorations of labels like Pucci and Missoni. Pieces such as the Flamenco Dress and the Reggae Tunic are named for some of my favorite musical genres."
What makes Laughing Out Loud different:
"There are not too many lines where you can find a hip 100 percent Pima cotton dress. Many other companies have great designs but they choose rayon or modal fabrics to construct their products. My collection, which is manufactured in Peru, combines high quality knitted cotton garments with fine-gauge knits and accessories. Each design is styled so the collection doesn't fall under the 'dressier' categories. We want to be smart yet casual."
Cole's favorite pieces:
"I am especially proud of the Flamenco dress, the Cumbia skirt and ALL of my fine-gauge knits. I love my unconventional patterns."
Sizes: NB to 6 years; Wholesale prices: $7-$44
Think of a Peruvian village. Imagine the clay colored walls, the deep rose tones of the flowers that surround it and the depth of the olive green leaves. Picture the sapphire blue sky at dusk and the deep, glint of gray mountains in the distance. Those are the dusky, saturated tones that make up this dynamic new collection. There are bold touches throughout: A thick grosgrain ribbon outlines a bodice; wide stripes add impact to simple shapes. With such a rich palette and assertive detail, Cole doesn't need to fuss with frills and, except for one showstopper of a dress, she keeps the lines of the garments clean.
Outstanding pieces: With the ruffled body, the rich charcoal lining and that bold crisscrossed woven ribbon, the Flamenco dress lives up to its name.
Infants will get noticed in the wild striped Rap Romper.
LAUGHING OUT LOUD
28 Ward Street
Boston, MA 02127
"BEST IN SHOW" NEWCOMER FOR A GIRLS' COLLECTION: SAURETTE
Like Cole, Kanouse left a high-powered job before launching Saurette. The mother of two young sons, Kanouse held the position of director of product development at Saks Fifth Avenue-Off 5th. "I am really passionate about things that I enjoy and believe in. I needed to find a way to continue to fulfill my passion for design and product development while freeing up time to devote to my two little boys [Dakota,5 and Ryder,2] who are growing up way too fast," says Kanouse. This March, she left her employer and, she says, "I've built a strong network over the years. That, coupled with my personal style and belief that I could offer something different, gave me the confidence to do my own collection."
Kanouse describes her line:
"Saurette [French for "swan"] is a contemporary collection targeted to modern parents that are looking for something different for their children. I was inspired by many of the women's spring ready-to-wear lines. I love the details and fabric mixing at Alberta Feretti, the large florals at Roberto Cavalli and 6267. Erdem and Jasper Conran had some wonderful nature prints. Kenzo always has great color. For Saurette, I took that inspiration and designed pieces with floral and tree embroideries and butterfly prints but added something different like metal beading or fabric piecing to make them unique."
"I love the Tree Embroidered Babydoll Blouse (which has been one of my best sellers to stores) and the Cabbage Floral Appliqués. That group is the most interesting with fabric piecing in fun colors."
Sizes: 2-10 years; Wholesale prices: $37-$60
Everything about this sweet top works as a cohesive whole: The delicate shape serves as a feminine canvas for the fresh mint green color and the lush cream embroidery. This is one piece that a mother will never give away.
A modern shape and color with a punch form a bold background for original appliqué work.
Like any great piece of art, you look and think, fabulous, never realizing the effort it took to craft such a seamless piece. A few of the details that make this ethereal creation a knockout: Fine, sheer cotton that forms an utterly weightless piece; transparent edging along the collar and armholes that adds textural interest; the sash that defines the waist; and the abundant embroidery along the neckline that lends a jewel-like touch.
Lisa Kanouse, Creative Director
Fielding Productions LLC
71 Broadway, Suite 15A
New York, NY 10006
Originally published November 14, 2008