Archive for October, 2009

Books Your Children Will Love

An illustration from Elsa Beskow's "Peter in Blueberry Land."

An illustration from Elsa Beskow's "Peter in Blueberry Land."

One of my favorite family rituals when my children were younger was reading bedtime stories, particularly the books of author and illustrator Elsa Beskow, who until her death in 1953 was Sweden’s Beatrix Potter.

Scandinavian folk culture is steeped in trolls and fairies and other magical beings that have an intimate connection to the natural world. Beskow’s books are so delightful because they celebrate this childlike perspective. Wood sprite children ride in boats with maple leaf sails; others wear caps made from blueberries or mushrooms. They create mischief and have grand adventures and get in old-fashioned trouble with their parents.

Peter_in_Blueberry_Land_2_Elsa_Beskow

Beskow’s books have also influenced the way I design clothing for Papo d’Anjo. The children in her illustrations wear outfits that are romantic without being fussy and include pinafores and shirts with Peter Pan collars–all Papo standards.  Her illustrations also rely heavily on flowers and other things found in nature, which is very in keeping with the gorgeous Liberty prints produced especially for us.

I love all of Beskow’s books, but my family’s favorites include Children of the Forest, Peter in Blueberry Land, The Sun Egg, and The Flowers’ Festival.

What are your family’s favorite children’s books? Please send your recommendations.

Keeping Textiles Out Of Landfills

textiles

As a children’s clothing designer, it’s safe to say that I love textiles. But I also worry about the impact they have on our environment. According to various reports, fabrics take up between four and ten percent of landfills in the United States alone.

At Papo d’Anjo, we are proud to be part of the solution to this global challenge. The high quality and classic design of our clothing means that they can be handed down not just from older sister to younger sister, but from generation to generation. We do not use synthetic fabrics, which take longer to decompose than natural textiles such as cotton and wool.

My family is very careful about reducing our fabric waste. Here are some of the tips I’ve found helpful:

  • Donate items you are not going to save to charity, including The Salvation Army, Goodwill, and other local organizations. Remember to tie shoes together so that they can go to a new owner — single shoes are a huge problem in landfills.
  • Recycle torn or ripped clothing. U’SAgain is a textile recycling company that operates in several U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and Minneapolis.
  • Mend old clothes instead of throwing them away.
  • Save clothing scraps for quilts or other sewing projects.
  • Use ripped or stained clothing for rags.
  • Buy clothing that you will wear for a long time or be able to pass down from child to child.

Photographing Children: Tips from Isabel Pinto

 

Isabel Pinto (left) and Catherine Monteiro de Barros (center) at work on a photo shoot.

Isabel Pinto (left) and Catherine Monteiro de Barros (center) at work on a photo shoot.

An obvious key to Papo d’Anjo’s success is the investment we have made in gorgeous lifestyle photographs that not only capture children’s natural innocence but also highlight the romance of Portugal. For the past six years, we’ve been lucky to have photographer Isabel Pinto leading our photography team.

Born in Lisbon and raised in Africa, Isabel is a natural at bringing out the best in the children she is photographing. Part of her skill comes from her personal life — she’s the mother of three children, ages 17, 15, and 11. Her youngest, Miguel, is so used to being on the other side of the lens that he  models for us. 

 

Miguel

Miguel

Photographing children — as I’m sure most of you have learned from trying — can be tricky. Since it’s the time of year when many families are starting to think about their holiday cards, I asked Isabel for a few tips for how to take beautiful shots that bring out your children’s personalities. 

  • Take your time. Between sports, music lessons, and other activities, it can be tough to block out a weekend morning or afternoon to just be with your children and photograph them while they play. But making that investment will pay off in photographs that are spontaneous. Instead of lining your children up and then shooting, follow their lead. 
  • Turn off the flash.  The harsh light of a flash is tough on children’s fair skin. Take photographs outside  (early morning and late afternoon have the best light) or near natural light sources such as windows or open doors. If you have no choice but to use a flash, convert the photos to black and white.
  • Get close.  A common mistake made by most amateur photographers is that they stand too far away from the person they are photographing. Don’t be afraid to get in so close that your child takes up almost the entire frame.

Every year, Papo d’Anjo receives countless photographs of children wearing our clothes. If you would like to email any of your favorite shots, please send them to andrea@papodanjo.com. I look forward to seeing them and will post a few on this blog. 

    Mix it Up

    mix it up

    One of my favorite tasks in designing Papo d’Anjo’s fall and winter collections is putting together the puzzle of which Liberty prints will look best with our  tartans. It’s an unconventionally playful look that has over the years come to be one of Papo’s signature styles.

    This mix and match aesthetic shows up from time to time in women’s fashion — Paul Smith and Etro come to mind. But my main source of inspiration is more personal. My mother is Norwegian and although I was raised in America, my family spends many summer holidays in the Norwegian countryside where my entire extended family still wear their national costumes for special occasions.

    Gerhard Munthe "Budeia" 1890

    Gerhard Munthe "Budeia" 1890

    Made from wool and cotton, these costumes combine beautiful embroidery with bold colors and contrasting prints that somehow all go together. They are walking pieces of folk art and many Norwegians — including my mother — make their own.

    Dress #1-1

    Another reason I love combining these fabrics is that I’m merging two of the United Kingdom’s most venerable fabric traditions. Both have been doing business for over a hundred years and care passionately about the importance of quality and tradition. I love the way the delicate Liberty prints contrast with the rich wool plaids.

    Many mothers have asked me for advice about how to coordinate their children’s outfits. My advice is that if the colors work together, they can go together. It’s all about having fun and remembering that children’s clothing should be playful as well as beautiful.



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