Just Bellissimo: The Collections at the Spring/Summer 2008 Pitti Bimbo Exhibition - Part I

When I started writing for the children's industry in 2001, it was easy to say, this is what a domestic collection looks like and this is a European line. It's no longer that simple. The European collections that I've included below, are each beautifully manufactured, ingeniously colored and the styling is fresh and fashion forward. Then again, so are the American lines that exhibited at the recent Pitti Bimbo show (June 29 - July 30, 2007). The difference? There's only one that I noticed. Occasionally I'll see a designer whose efforts are still a bit green, and by "green" I don't mean earth friendly. There's always talent present, but, somehow, their line hasn't quite jelled. You don't see that at Pitti. For a designer to be accepted into the show, they must nail all the requirements: A cohesive look and beautiful craftsmanship (this is Italy!).

Once you see the collections, I think you'll agree: Regardless of the manufacturer's origin, the collections are exceptional.





DESIGNER: Barbie design team

Homebase: El Segundo, CA

Sizes: 3 to 10 years; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

Themes: "Beach Festival," "Happy Hideaway," "Picnic in the Park," and "Butterfly Garden."

My Barbie wore a gold lame gown and gloves that came up to her armpits. Live Barbie's won't be as sexy as my plastic friend, but they'll still look like dolls.

The line of dresses and separates is sweet, ultra feminine and heavy on pink.


Little details like the ruched bodices, the bows and full skirts add up to two very pretty dresses.

Barbie taps into her inner Lefty.

Overseas distributor:

Tel: +39 02213041





Homebase: New York, NY

DESIGNER: Bonnie Young

Sizes: NB to 16 years; Wholesale prices: $45-$400; $1100 for a hand-sewn sequined dress

Theme: "A Universe for Little Gods and Goddesses"

Before launching her collection at the Pitti exhibition, Young spent 16 years as Donna Karan's senior creative director. Through her association with Karan, she is able to source the finest materials like the organic cashmere she employs in the baby line. Young's collection was part of the new "Ecoethic" area at the show.

Young works in a sophisticated color palette of acid yellow and honey, black, white and shots of hot red and fuchsia. The craftsmanship and styling of the goods are pure couture.

Favorites: Just a few months into the kids' industry, Young's designs are already on the "must-have" lists of Dakota Fanning and little Suri Holmes-Cruise. One look at this tulle covered flapper dress with hand sewn floral details, as well as the beguiling black voile A-line, and it's easy to see why.

Tel: 212-675-7256


U.S. retailers: Barneys New York

Overseas distributor: None






DESIGNER: Agatha Ruiz de la Prada

Homebase: Madrid, Spain

Sizes: NB to 14; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

Theme: "A world out of this world"

In their words: "Warm colors take center stage, like orange, yellow, red and pink, each one of them playing a part as both picture icons and patterns."

Another theme for de la Prada's line could be "fly me to the moon." Some of pieces were more costume than clothing, but I can't say she lacks imagination.


The softer side of de la Prada.

Alien chic.

Tel: +34 91 3104093


U.S. retailers: The collection is sold in the Agatha Ruiz de la Prada Boutique in NYC as well as on many Internet websites.

U.S. sales representative: Agatha Ruiz de la Prada store

Tel: 212-598-4078





DESIGNER: Luciano Magoga

Homebase: Dosson di Casier, Italy

Sizes: 3 months to 14 years; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

In their words: "We catch and understand the expectations and trends of the world that encircles little consumers."

In business since 1980, Ciunga sells throughout Europe and the Middle East. Magoga manages to capture trends without the collection looking flashy. The colors are soft and elegant, the prints refined, and the shapes playful yet clean-lined. It's a winner.


Boys look dandy in pinstripes.

A mix of Indonesian styled prints that don't look busy. (A tie, like the navy print here lacing through the neckline, was a strong trend at the show.)

Tel: 0039 422 331866


U.S. retailers: None

Overseas distributor: None




DESIGNERS: Imelde and Stefano Cavalleri

Homebase: Entratico, Italy

Sizes: NB to 14; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

Theme: "The Secret Garden."

In their words: "I Pinco Pallino imagined a perfect garden, free from the inexorable passing of time, that escapes the seasons and inclement weather, that is able to stop the fleeting moment of perfect beauty of leaves and flowers that never wither."

The Cavalleri's are designers' designers. Every group they put forth uses the finest materials and couture craftsmanship, but it's the styles themselves that are riveting. Their use of metallic goods look both formal and comfortably childlike. And they're masters at mixing a boyish touch, like the fabulous gold metallic jacket, with full-blown femininity that gives their outfits an appealing androgyny.


Heavy metal? Not here. Each dress and the great gold motorcycle jacket is pure glamour.

Green contrasted with crisp white reflects a just picked farmer's market freshness.

A passion for flowers is kept in check with simple shapes.

Tel: +39 0354255111


U.S. retailers: Prince & Princess, NYC; Petit Chic, Cedarhurst, NY; Tuesday's Child, Brooklyn, NY; Spring Flowers, New York, New York; Heaven Children's Wear, Carmel by the Sea, CA; Performance Sky, Aspen, CO; Lissilaa Boutique, La Jolla, CA

U.S. sales representative: None




DESIGNER: Anky Groothof

Homebase: Holland

Sizes: NB to 12; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

Theme: Crisp black and white items balanced with delicate pink pieces, and, of course, ruffles galore.

Groothof's known for multi-ruffled dresses and skirts lined with contrasting patterned slips, finely seamed corsets and layered prints. This season she's offered retailers all that and more: great, modern separates for boys that don't skimp on the details; innovative print combinations and cutaway jackets that manage to be romantic while exuding a whiff of street culture.


This delicate pink and white ensemble is like a strawberry milkshake: sweet, frothy and delicious.

I don't know if the black and white combination lends an edge to the romantic ruffled silhouettes or the frills soften the graphic duo. Either way, the outfits are undeniably fresh.

Black and white three ways: With crisp polka dots, a lean striped sweater and plaid pants. There's a lot going on and yet it's easy on the eyes.

Tel: +39 024812312


U.S. retailers: Henny Penny, Portland, OR; Classy Kids, Englewood, NJ

U.S. sales representative:

Carmelite Zofnat at C & C Children's Wear

Tel: 212 564-3031





DESIGNERS: Vicky Vinck and Evelyne De Brock

Homebase: Antwerp, Belgium

Sizes: 6 months to 12 years; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

Theme: "Fly me to the Moon."

In their words: Their style is "nonchalant, contemporary" a look they achieve with bright colors such as anthracite, anemone, red and purple.

While other lines play it safe with neutrals, peaches and soft pinks, Maan's designers take color to the limit with electric blue, deep jade green, real purple and acid yellow. There's nothing retiring about the prints they select either. All together though, the collection is more sophisticated than extreme.


Keeping the detail minimal lets that great print skirt and saturated jewel tones glow.

The halter top with the cool squares reminds me of something Mondrian would design. Paired with the lime-pleated skirt, the set is the epitome of modern.

I love the way the narrow proportion of the Poor Boy exaggerates the fullness of the skirt. And that color!

Tel: +32 (0) 3 232 48 07


U.S. retailers: Estella and Yoyo Mart in New York City; LMNOP in Chicago

U.S. sales representative: None





DESIGNER: Alberta Ferretti

Homebase: Bentivoglio, Italy

Sizes: 4 to 12 years; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

In their words: "We believe the high-end market is looking for innovative fashion and a refined and elegant product that also has a contemporary, young vision."

In her first collection for children, Ferretti, who is famous for her women's collection Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti, offers a 90-piece line of better garments in, what Ms. Ferretti describes as "pure materials: silk and cotton." The styles are easy to move in, crisp and colored in soft, beachy neutrals contrasted with navy. Her white dresses are especially appealing.


The white-on-white embroidered dresses appear to float from the body.

In a show full of navy eyelet separates, Ferretti's rich, inky hue and arresting details make this top a standout. (The blouse has a matching circle skirt.)

Tel: +39 0516640426


U.S. retailers: None yet

U.S. sales representative: None




DESIGNER: Gabriella Cortese

Homebase: Paris, France

Sizes: 2 to 12 years; Wholesale prices: $28-$55

Theme: An exotic locale

Cortese is an avid traveler who is inspired by the exotic colors, beading and embroidery seen in her travels. Her collection mixes Indian and Indonesian colors and patterns with sleek, modern shapes. The outcome is a line that is both highly unusual and exceptionally wearable.

Favorites: The sheath dress is clean, modern simplicity with a touch of romantic Indian detail. Team it with the All-American jacket in red and white pin stripes and you have a perfect example of why this line is so successful.

Tel: +33 (0) 1 48 87 9595


U.S. retailers: Barneys NY; Scoop, NY

U.S. sales representative: None




DESIGNERS: Isabelle and John-Claude N'Doumbe

Homebase: Paris, France

Sizes: 2 to 8 years; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

Theme: Blending American nostalgia with exoticism.

In their words: "This season is a mix of the Fifties, Asia and Africa. The Fifties inspired the shapes, Asia influenced the printed silks and the spicy brown and orange colors are reminiscent of Africa."

Unlike some of the collections that exhibited in the "New View" area, Baby N'oum is strongly print driven. The shapes are A-line smocks and smock dresses with coordinating, narrow pants for girls; boys wear streamlined tunics, pullover shirts and simple, lean pants.


The cotton knit tee and coordinating cardigan glimmer with subtle gold metallic yarns. The set is pure elegance with the floaty, cocoa gauze mini.

The tiny marks atop the cheery yellow dress look as if a curious sparrow marched across the fabric. Mixing the garment with a different pattern in a similar coloration is trademark Baby N'oum.

Tel: 33 (0) 1 42 33 06 44


U.S. retailers: Les Petites Chapelais, New York, NY; Lux Enfant, South Orange, NJ

U.S. sales representative: None




DESIGNER: Aurelie Dehennia

Homebase: Antwerp, Belgium

Sizes: 4-16 years; Wholesale prices: Contact manufacturer

In their words: "I was aiming for a very colorful, fresh look this season."

In another life, I'd like to come back as a beautiful adolescent who wears Essentiel Girls clothing. Dehennia is not only a world-class colorist with a knack for putting together unexpected shades, but each piece - from the cut, the amazing embellishment and the textiles she selects - is exquisite. The way she merchandises the outfits too, is quite special.


Who would think of using an ornate kimono print embroidered with gold thread for a simple sundress? Or pair the piece with a screaming yellow jacket? Dehennia, and you can see the result.

Ocean blues, a handful of delicate textures and one great tile print make this perfect for beach-side dining, or, just about any casual occasion.

Tel: +32 3 2011380


U.S. retailers: Barney's, New York; Ron Robinson, Los Angeles, CA

Overseas distributor: None


Originally published August 3, 2007


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