September 2nd, 2013

Prints Baby!

Meet my lovely friend Fiona Kowalski.

We worked together for six years at Madison and she’s absolutely one of my all time favourite stylists.

Fiona’s own style is classic and effortless. She’s got a wonderful minimalism to the way she dresses – nothing is fussy or forced. That’s Fiona’s talent – making simple look special.

After the birth of her daughter, Gidget, she decided to steer her passion for fashion toward bodies of a littler kind launching her own label Printebebe. A range of super stylish and practical clothes for babies and toddlers (with kids sizes on the way) – I wish it had been around when my girls were little.

Fiona is warm, funny and super talented – here’s a peek inside her fabulous wardrobe and sunny beachside home.

BTW – Little Gidget will make you want to have a baby (or another one)…

PJxx

Fashion By Fiona.

Gidget wears Printebebe smock blousePrintebebe unisex denim pantsPrintebebe skinny tee and Pom D’api shoes. Fiona wears Chronicles of Never waistcoat, Ellery top, Bassike pants, Chloe sandals.

Describe your personality in three words.
Positive, easy going, determined. I just asked my husband who said add bossy to that list!

What inspires you?
Ease of living, ease of fashion. I am always inspired by people, interiors and style that looks effortless. Fabulously effortless, so you know how much has gone into it.

Tell us about your career path.
I have worked in magazines for over 20 years in London, Hong Kong and Australia. I worked at Vogue Australia for five years before moving to Madison when it launched eight years ago. Before magazines, I went to fashion college and worked as a swim and sportswear designer. I have kind of come full circle.

How did Printebebe come about?
I loved the French aesthetic for children. After buying a lot of French labels I found the extra details, like tiny buttons, made the clothing hard to get on. I could never get Gidget to stay still long enough to dress her. I also love minimal pieces and found a lot of childrenswear to be over-designed. Printebebe came about as I tried to find clothing that I wanted my daughter to wear, but at a reasonable price. 

Tell us about Printebebe.
Printebebe is a range of simple children’s clothing in beautiful prints. It’s easy to wear and affordable. All our pieces are transeasonal as sleeves and trousers look great rolled up or down. Currently we make for ages three months to three years but this summer I will be making designs for girls up to the age of four and we are introducing a boys range.

Where do you find inspiration for your prints?
I source prints from all over. There is no plan – if it feels right to me then it is right.

What is the favourite thing about your job?
I love the flexibility that having my own business creates. It means I can spend more time with my daughter Gidget during the day but still work. It often means working after she’s asleep, but for me that’s a good payoff.

If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be?
I worked in magazines for 20 years and I loved it. When I wanted a change, I thought long and hard about my next move. I have always thought that it is important to love what you do as it’s such a big part of your life, so I wouldn’t be doing anything different.

Describe a typical week for you.
There is no typical week. It is forever changing between working on Printebebe and my freelance styling. I might have a week that’s full on with clients, sourcing and shooting long days, then the next week will be focused on Printebebe where I am dealing with manufacturers, orders and updating our site. I am incredibly lucky as Gidget still has naps during the day where I can get work done at home. I am also blessed with a flexible nanny who Gidget adores. So we just all roll with it and it seems to work for everyone so far.

Name three things currently in your handbag.
Baby wipes, kids fruit bar and a Prada wallet.

Her Simple Sense Of Style.

Gidget wears Printebebe smock blousePrintebebe skirt and Printebebe skinny tee. Fiona wears Easton Pearson waistcoat, Ellery top, Bassike pants, Alexander Wang sandals and Marni necklace.

Where did your love for fashion come from?
My eldest sister went to fashion college and I literally copied everything that she did. She only stayed in the course for one year but it was enough to get me hooked. I have never wanted to do anything else. I was pretty focused on what I wanted from quite a young age. 

Is there anyone that inspired you to join the fashion industry? 
There was no one person who inspired me to join the industry but I have met so many inspiring people since I have been working in fashion. I love that it is an industry that creates powerful women and I feel I have benefited from the wisdom of so many of these women in my career.

How would you describe your own style?
Minimalist with a bit of a twist. I always love to keep things pared back but then I might add a bit of arm candy, an oversized necklace or a printed piece for a change.

Has your style changed since having a baby?
Completely! Heels are a thing of the past for sure and all my clothes are much more functional now as everything has to be able to go in the wash. Once you have changed your trousers three times before 10am thanks to grubby hands, you definitely can’t be bothered with dry cleaning!

Who’s your celebrity style crush?
I am obsessed with Emmanuelle Alt, the Editor of Vogue Paris. I am not sure if you can call her a celebrity but she’s more fabulous than anyone else in my eyes. She always looks so chic and is a fan of a minimal colour palette  I have been dressing in minimal colours for so long but she is possibly where my obsession started.

What’s your favourite trend right now?
I love that international designers seem to have black and white in their heads, from Alexander Wang’s launch collection for Balenciaga and Proenza Schouler’s minimal graphics, along with Celine’s minimalist collection. It’s all things that I love.

What trend do you hate?
I hate that celebrities have taken over as the new models. I love models as the clothes are able to be the star.

Name five of your favourite designers.
Miuccia Prada, Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney, the girls at Bassike and Lisa Ho. I have collaborated with Lisa Ho for many years and I have always loved seeing her design process.

Gidget wears Printebebe pocket dressPrintebebe skinny tee, Saltwater sandals. Fiona wears Isabel Marant dress, Hermes leather cuff.

What are the three pieces you find yourself wearing constantly?
This winter I’m wearing Bassike low crotch pants (I literally have 10 pairs in different colours) and Sonya Hopkins cashmere sweaters (they are divine, I am obsessed). In summer I wear printed sundresses, I particularly love Zimmermann’s styles.

What is the most treasured piece of clothing in your closet?
On my first trip to Milan for Madison, I bought a Prada box shaped satin jacket in black. I don’t wear it often as it’s a night time piece but it has seems to get more on trend each season.

What’s the best piece of fashion advice you’ve ever been given? 
I have never been given fashion advice so to speak but I love seeing well dressed women and absorbing what it is about their style that’s so fabulous.

What piece in your wardrobe gets you from season to season?
I have a Lisa Ho classic black shell top that is perfect for winter under a jacket or for summer on it’s own. I like the clean minimal shape of it.

Is there anything in your closet that you’ve owned for more than five years, and still wear to this day?
I am all about investment dressing and cost per wear so probably about half of my wardrobe is more than five years old. I literally wear my clothing out. I would much prefer to spend money on one amazing piece and then wear it again and again. I have a black Ann Demeulemeester trench that I have been wearing for 10 years now and I still love it. It will be a sad day when it dies.

Gidget wears Printebebe pocket dress, Saltwater sandals. Fiona wears Country Road blouse, Dries Van Noten pants, Miu Miu sandals, Hermes leather cuff and bangle.

What would we never see you wearing?
A miniskirt as I don’t have the legs for it!

What’s in your closet that you’ve never worn before?
High heeled sneakers. I know everyone is crazy for them but it just feels wrong. Every time I put them on I take them off, put on my Nike Air’s and then it just all feels right.

Where do you love to shop?
Online or in Paris. I love shopping in Paris more than any other city, not so easy these days, I used to do two trips a year.

What was your most recent purchase?
I am obsessed with these Pom d’Api tan sandals that I bought for Gidget recently. For myself I recently bought white Bassike pants and a Sonya Hopkins black crew neck cashmere sweater. Love them. 

Little Lessons In Fashion.

Gidget wears Printebebe smock blousePrintebebe skinny tee, Pom D’api shoes. Fiona wears Lisa Ho top & pants, Alexander Wang sandals.

Who picks out Gidget’s outfits?
We are borderline but still me at the moment. She will sometimes say I won’t wear that top/ pant – ‘it’s boring’ is her favourite line. Then I give her a choice of two things and say ‘which one?’ Mum instilled in me that it’s good to give children a choice but it should be a small one.

How would you describe Gidget’s style?
She is always in a print, and in keeping with the Printebebe feel, the tones match. In winter I layer the dresses and smocks over skinny tees and tights or our new unisex pant. Last summer she wore mix-and-match smocks and bloomers constantly. I loved the bare legs with the short smock blouse, divine!

Gidget flashes her beloved bloomers!

What’s the Printebebe approach to children’s fashion?
Gorgeous mix and match prints that are easy, easy, easy. Everything can be washed easily and the prints really are forgiving with a messy toddler.

What’s your favourite piece in your current collection?
I love the smock blouse. It’s our signature piece and Gidget has one in every print we have ever done. They are perfect in summer as it’s light cotton but is cool enough to wear on the hottest days. In winter I layer the smock blouse over a skinny tee or singlet.

What are your top five style tips?
Funnily enough these tips work for both Gidget and me:
1. Always spend money on good shoes, you only need one to two pairs per season
2. Don’t save any thing for a special occasion. Wear it all the time.
3. Buy a few better quality things. I found the cheaper pieces I bought Gidget never lasted so they were a waste of money in the end.
4. When working with prints, match your tones, then all prints will work together.
5. If you find something you love, buy it in multiples.

A Home By The Beach.

How would you describe your home’s style?
Hawaii kitsch meets beach lifestyle. We are across the road from the beach. The apartment is always filled with sand as the beach is basically our backyard. My home is small so I have to edit, edit, edit all the time.

What’s your most treasured piece in your home?
The artwork in general. I have a Linda Skrolys piece I bought with my original ‘saving for house fund’. I still love it as much now as then.

What are your top tips for adding personality to our home?
Buy things in your travels so you can bring home good memories. I once had a dealer bubble wrap a hand framed painting in India and put it on as luggage… the frame got a little battered but it survived!

The Lifestyled List.

Tea or Coffee? Both but I could not live without tea. Coffee I can take or leave.
Favourite Flower? Peonies. We got married in November and it was just beautiful as I had white peonies everywhere. Then our daughter was born in December and everyone sent me peonies from pink to dark burgundy. They give me wonderful memories.
Heels or Flats? Flats for sure.
Favourite Cocktail? Not for me, I just like wine.
Style Icon? Emmanuelle Alt.
Signature Scent? It was Helmut Lang but it was discontinued when the label sold. I was so so sad. I love Kai now, but I am still on the lookout.
Favourite City? J’adore Paris. As a city it is so beautiful and easy to walk all over.
Reading… on my Kindle, which I never ever thought I would love.
Listening… Playschool sadly…when does it end?!
Guilty pleasure… chocolate coated red liquorice.
Biggest fashion weakness… My husband. It doesn’t matter how much I coach him he often leaves the house looking like a derelict.
Every woman should own… matching bra and undies.
I will never wear… super high heels again, sounds so sad when I write it.
I need… some new tan sandals.
I want… a really fabulous sundress with oversized loose sleeves for summer in a chocolate and white print. It’s in my head, now I just need to find it.

Bondi Meets Hawaii.

Too Cute For Words.

Slideshow:
Fullscreen:

 

Follow Printebebe on Instagram – you won’t be sorry! @printebebe

  • http://BusinessChic.com.au/ Cheryl | BusinessChic.com.au

    Squeee this is adorable. I’ve friends with little girls and looking forward to spoiling them with printbebe – thanks Paula!

    PS: Gosh you magazine people and the creative adventures/jobs you create for yourself are SO inspiring. thanks for this lovely interview.

  • Corina

    I LOVE these interviews Paula! I can’t get enough of reading about and seeing pictures of people who are stylish and creative. Can we please have more of them?! x

  • Hanne_Liz

    I know just who to give some Printbebe too. I love the bloomers, they allow a little girl to wear a dress but maintain her modesty.

  • Brigitta Pollard

    Such a wonderful story. I have been a fan of Fiona Kowalski (Lane) for many years and her skill and style are unmatched….until Gidget came along! What a team. Printbebe couldn’t have a cuter house model! Congratulations on the range.

  • Allison

    Gorgeous on every level… But Miss Paula, what I really want to see is some of YOUR house interior!! You’ve been teasing us with little glimpses here and there and I want more!! xx

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