The Charabia Paris story began over 15 years ago when Swedish fashion designer Lena Henriksson-Barenton who worked for Lanvin Haute Couture, and French Advertising Executive Eric Barenton decided to create Charabia for girls ages 0-16. Today Charabia is a popular girls brand world famous for their beautiful dresses found in leading department stores and boutiques around the globe.
At the Playtime Paris Trade Show, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lena and Eric to learn more about the Charabia story and what’s new for Spring Summer 2015.
Why the Move from Women to Girl’s Fashion?
I wanted to do something that little girls would fall in love with. In French, you say les coup de coeur meaning when you see a special dress you instantly fall in love with it. Even if you don’t need the dress you have to have it because you know it will make you happy every time you wear it. It’s something you keep for years and years until you can’t fit into it anymore. And when you look back it gives you good memories of your childhood.
“I’m really passionate about design and fabrics. So I thought it would be nice to bring that into kids fashion. For kids, there were fewer options and they were more classic. It was interesting to try and bring something new to kids fashion with nice fabrics that you didn’t see very often.
Fabrics are very important to me, so I spend a lot of time looking for original fabrics that can be used for kids. You can’t do the exact thing with girls as in women’s fashion, they’re lots of different things you need to think about. On the one hand, the fabric needs to be washable and durable. On the other hand, I think you shouldn’t be too practical, you need to let go a bit and it must be fun.”
What’s Special about Charabia?
“You don’t find this kind of fabrics in kids fashion very often. For example, we use a special jacquard fabric from France that’s really beautiful, traditional, and durable. It’s three dimensional and made on special machines in Italy and France. I think it’s good that people continue to use these special fabrics from Europe, even if it’s a little bit more expensive than importing fabric from Asia. Why not use special fabrics from Italy and France and then use simple classic shapes? It’s still possible to produce garments in Europe if you take into consideration the fabric and shape.
One of my favorite dresses for Spring Summer 2015 is this Blue Sky Dress. I was looking for a fabric with a blue sky, and found this one but it wasn’t on a good base. So I changed the print to a more sophisticated base, and then added pleats which I love to do on special fabrics.
Every season we have embroidery, and this time I found a great fabric that has a vintage and old-fashioned look. It reminds me of fabrics used in the 1950s. Another vintage look is these handmade flowers that give a 1930s look. I also like to use special embroidery that is made on a hand machine where you need
to guide the fabric.
In the past, I worked for women’s knitwear. I really like knit, you can do a lot of things with it by mixing colors, different stitching, and special threads. For boutiques, it’s nice to have a basic knit that goes with everything. And when you put metallic into the knit it makes them look even more special. You can put the silver with blue, lilac or white. So you have a silver or a gold option that you can mix with everything.
This season we also have a French Medallion fabric. When I found it the shape of the medallion was double. I knew it was too big for kids so we had to shrink it down 50% and had to see how it would work with the traditional machine.
One of my favorites is this special jacquard fabric from Italy in lilac, pink, and off-white. It creates a kind of satin effect when it catches the light because of the special threading and blends of cotton and polyester.
Something that’s really special this season is our new sophisticated fabric from Italy, a type of organza with a new sort of embroidery that’s a little bit fringed. You need to laser cut around it without cutting the fabric base. I’ve layered this fabric with cotton silk lining in a contrasting color to give a special effect.
You can find these beautiful dresses at Charabia’s Boutique in Saint-Germain-des-Prés near Saint-Sulpice Church. Charabia also has corners in famous Parisian department stores Galeries Lafayette and Le Bon Marché. Plus you can find Charabia in major Department Stores and Boutiques worldwide.
Photo Credit: Nancy Bundt