Toddler Togs

Toddler Togs

Judging by the number of celebrity mothers lining up to dress their A-list offspring in Baby Dior, Petit Bateau and Bonpoint-witness star photographer Annie Leibovitz’s recent Vanity Fair portrait of Suri Cruise in a white Bonpoint smock dress-the big French fashion story this season is not heels or handbags, it’s toddler chic. Christian Dior set the ball rolling back in the 1960s when the couture house designed a made-to-order collection of “modèles réduits” for the newborn Princess Caroline of Monaco. Baby Dior was launched in 1967 and four decades later, cashmere bibs, rabbit-fur booties, deluxe diaper bags and logo pacifiers are flying out of the couture-style salon on Avenue Montaigne faster than you can say bébé bling.

Now Sonia Rykiel, Kenzo, Armani and Agnès B have all joined in the playground fun, waking up to the market potential of designer childrenswear. More recently, following the phenomenal success of Marc Jacobs’s Little Marc range, hip French labels such as Paul & Joe, Zadig & Voltaire and Isabel Marant have also launched mini-sized collections. The designer baby boom is now in full swing and the fashion stakes are high-so high, in fact, that the Italian streetwear label Diesel has just recruited Dior’s John Galliano to design its new range of children’s clothes for style-conscious girls and boys aged 4-14, due to hit boutiques in the autumn of this year.

Meanwhile, Bonpoint-the quintessential French purveyor of understated kiddie elegance-continues its fairytale success story. Created by Marie-France Cohen and her husband Bernard in 1975, the brand’s clever twists on traditional favorites such as Liberty prints, pin-tucks and fitted Harris Tweed coats became a cult favorite in the late ‘70s, when hip Parisian celebrity couple Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin dressed their daughter Charlotte head-to-toe in Bonpoint. No expense was spared on the palatial flagship store Bonpoint opened in 2006. Designed by architect François Muracciole, the eight rooms in five adjoining buildings offer vintage oak parquet, antique chandeliers and organdy-lined walls, and include such fantasy touches as an adventure cabin built from sheet metal and salvaged wood and a nursery section fitted with astrakhan-lined cribs. Downstairs, little darlings can have their afternoon snacks in a child-friendly restaurant complete with highchairs, copious supplies of paper and crayons, and waiters bearing huge glass jars of old-fashioned bonbons.

Petit Bateau also appeals to celebrity moms-Gwyneth Paltrow dresses both Moses and Apple in the brand’s signature stripes. Founded in Troyes in 1893 by Pierre Valton, Petit Bateau first made its name producing cotton underwear for World War I soldiers. Valton went on to invent the petite culotte-a brief undergarment for children to replace the miniature copies of adults’ long underwear previously in style. Petit Bateau’s mille-raie stripes became an iconic children’s look in France. Then in 1996 Karl Lagerfeld provoked a huge fashion buzz when his runway models wore Petit Bateau T-shirts under Chanel suits. With women of all ages and sizes trying to squeeze themselves into Age-12s, Petit Bateau launched a women’s collection and, more recently, T-shirts for men.

Children’s concept stores are also tapping into this cross-generational appeal, presenting children’s collections designed to wow parents as much as their cherished offspring. Notsobig carries bedroom furniture, arty mobiles, suede-lined baby bouncers and Sigikid teddy bears. Little VIP boasts its own in-house stylist who, by appointment, puts together outfits from a suitably trendy range of children’s labels (including Kids Case and Bill Tornade). Ultra-upmarket Ovale caters to infants, and provides tasteful beige and ivory clothing, solid-silver rattles and gold jewelry for tots.

Repetto, the French dancewear line made famous by the young Brigitte Bardot, recently launched a collection for petite princesses (2-12) featuring sweet petticoat skirts in tulle and taffeta, and ankle socks with lace ruffles. Le Marchand d’Etoiles sends cosseted offspring to bed in pearl-gray velours pajamas and angel-winged nightwear that look smart enough to wear to the park. And take it from a mother who knows, the gold-dotted and star-studded boxer shorts are cute enough to coax any petit prince out of diapers!

Finally, for mothers and doting grandparents on a budget, (or who find designer totwear over the top), some of the most stylish childrenswear in town can be found at Monoprix, the cut-price chain stores that Parisians flock to for everything from groceries to garden tools. A recent foray here turned up a cashmere romper suit, miniature Converse-style boots and an exclusive Monoprix line by Petit Bateau-toddler chic at pint-sized prices.


Baby Dior 28 ave Montaigne, 8th,

Bonpoint 6 rue de Tournon, 6th,

Petit Bateau 116 ave des Champs-Elysées, 8th, and many other locations

Notsobig 38 rue Tiquetonne, 2nd,

Little VIP 1 rue St-Simon, 7th,

Ovale 200 blvd St-Germain, 7th,

Repetto 22 rue de la Paix, 2nd,

Le Marchand d’Etoiles 3 rue Chomel, 7th,

Monoprix All over town including 50 rue de Rennes, 6th,

See our complete Paris shopping guide

View Toddler Togs in a larger map

Share to:  Facebook  Twitter   LinkedIn   Email

Previous Article Hot Hotels
Next Article Eiffel’s Other Masterpieces

Related Articles

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *