"When I started in this business in 1993, maternity clothes were oversized and unflattering," says fashion designer Liz Lange, the mother of Gus and Alice. "It's much better for a pregnant woman to wear something close to the body -- tailored but not skin-tight -- so that people can see where she has curves and where she doesn't."
That philosophy has earned the energetic Lange a following that any designer would envy. She has opened Liz Lange Maternity stores on Madison Avenue in New York City and North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills and has outfitted such expectant celebrities as Cindy Crawford, Kelly Ripa, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Téa Leoni.
Lange's collection emphasizes solid colors, stretch fabrics, and versatile mix-and-match pieces. "I like my customers to be what I call 'dipped in one color,'" she says, a concept that reflects her love of classic American designers such as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren. Explains Lange, "If you're wearing stretch charcoal pants, you can add a cashmere turtleneck in a similar shade. I dress that way myself -- very simple and clean. My advice: Choose your favorite neutral color and build a wardrobe around it."
A fast and easy routine is Lange's key to looking great and staying in shape. "I love Stila makeup and the products of Kimara Ahnert, a makeup artist who has a studio on Madison Avenue," she says. "My favorite occasional indulgence is reflexology foot massage, which I find relaxing since I'm on my feet so much. I also take a 15-minute hot bath every night. That's a time I set aside to let go of the tensions of the day."
Several times a week, Lange starts her day with a three-mile walk around the Central Park reservoir near the apartment she shares with her family. "I'm a high-energy person," she says, "and between taking care of my children and the
business, I manage to stay fit."
Catherine Malandrino has attracted her share of celebrity clients (including Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, Sharon Stone, and Madonna), but this French-born designer and owner of signature boutiques in New York City's Soho district and Beverly Hills, CA, ultimately creates clothing for stylish women like herself. As the mother of son Oscar, Malandrino is the ideal model for her own designs: a busy, creative woman with an open mind and a playful fashion sense.
Malandrino's look is French chic, with an all-American twist of cool: vibrant colors, patriotic motifs, feminine chiffon and lace, and well-cut pants and jeans. "The timing of my red, white, and blue collection was a total accident," she says, referring to her hand-painted flag T-shirts, star-studded dresses and sweaters, and "I Love New York" belts, which became bestsellers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "I designed the collection more than a year ago as a celebration of how much I love living in America."
This stunning mom insists that she achieves her glamorous look with minimal effort. "I don't really exercise, but I'm very active," she says, adding that she drinks fruit juice throughout the day for energy. "I travel a lot, and I love exercise that is linked with my lifestyle: skiing, sailing, and horseback riding." Her makeup routine is centered on eyes and lips, with MAC's black mascara, a charcoal pencil to give her eyes a smoky look, and "sexy, shiny lipstick in a shade that matches my natural lip color."
Oscar's birth coincided with her first collection. "Everything came at once, and it all seemed natural," Malandrino says. To keep new-mom stress low, she brought the baby to her design studio, and she's just begun a kids' line."It's wonderful," she says, "to share my work with
the people I love."
After having her first two children, Jane Hedreen discovered that she couldn't find the kind of beautifully made, age-appropriate kids' clothing she wanted. "On the one hand, I felt that the clothes I was seeing for my daughter were much too adult," says Hedreen, now the designer and owner of Flora and Henri, a Seattle-based business with a pair of elegant shops. "And I couldn't find anything for my son without a logo on it. Children are used way too much as walking advertisements in the marketplace."
Hedreen used her art history background to launch her collection with a series of fashion-magazine-quality catalogs featuring her kids, Estelle, Guy, and their friends. (Baby Frances was born a year before.) "Our customers have said that they've enjoyed watching the kids grow up," she says. The Flora and Henri look is classic and slightly old-world, with a line of "essentials" (cotton-knit tanks, gowns, and pajamas), plus dresses, coats, and separates inspired by vintage children's clothing. "Our color palette is not one that you typically see marketed for children," Hedreen notes of the neutral colors and muted patterns she selects.
The designer's low-key personal style is in keeping with Flora and Henri's philosophy of simplicity. "I wear very little makeup," she says, "but I like the Nars brand. Natural-looking lipliner and lipstick are my favorite cosmetics." The fashion-conscious Hedreen, who is slowly adding adult pieces to the Flora and Henri line, says her own favorite designers include New York City -- based Jane Mayle and Prada. "When I get a really great essential like a Prada sweater, I wear it forever." She shares a cardio and weight-training gym workout with a close friend whenever she can, adding with a laugh, "Having a nice, long lunch with friends is my favorite way to fight stress."
Though she cofounded Alchemy Cosmetics, a line of makeup whose fans include Jenna Elfman, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Minnie Driver, Sandy Mustion-Lemmerman admits to doing her own makeup on the morning train. "I have just four things in my bag: mascara, lipliner, lip gloss, and a multicolored bronzer compact," she says. "You mix the color together and put it on your eyes, cheeks, and temples to get a sunny look."
It's this real-life attitude that has made Alchemy, created with pharmacist Ian Ginsberg for C.O. Bigelow Apothecary in New York City's Greenwich Village, a success. "Customers told us they wanted makeup that was hip but not intimidating," says Mustion-Lemmerman, and Alchemy responded with a collection of timesaving dual-purpose products such as a blemish-treatment concealer and a vitamin-enriched liquid foundation.
A quick morning routine is essential for Mustion-Lemmerman, who commutes from suburban Long Island to Manhattan four days a week after settling son Blaze in at daycare, "Keep makeup simple," she advises. "You can never go wrong with a light lip, a neutral cheek, and a little more intense eye. Anything that is luminizing and moisturizing or that gives a hint of color makes you look healthy and happy. Look at your eye color, your hair color, and the colors you gravitate toward in clothing, and play those into your makeup." Eyebrow grooming is key, she adds. "Your eyebrows are the frame for your eyes. If you can't get them waxed, tweeze them yourself and make sure you define them with brow gel or pencil."
Having found it difficult to lose the weight she gained during pregnancy, Mustion-Lemmerman packs a salad and yogurt for lunch and goes to the gym at midday twice a week."It keeps me focused, relaxed, and grounded," she says. "And when things get crazy at work, I say to myself, 'It's only lipstick!'"
The search for unique furnishings for their kids' rooms inspired Richmond, VA -- based moms Andrea Edmunds and Karen Booth Adams to launch the home furnishings Web site PoshTots.com a year and a half ago. "I was doing my daughter's room with a 'bunnies in the garden' theme," says Adams, the mother of Sarah and Olivia, "and I couldn't find anything on the Internet."
After meeting with artisans producing one-of-a-kind pieces (including a carrot-shaped chest), Adams, a technology executive, joined with entrepreneur Edmunds to gather high-quality handcrafted home furnishings and offer them to parents via the Web. Among the site's custom-made treasures are a bed shaped like Cinderella's coach and a firehouse playhouse. More typical items include rose-covered lamps and needlepoint pillows.
"Parents want their baby's room to be an extension of their taste," says Edmunds, the mother of Madison and Emma. Hot sellers include hand-painted and distressed furniture, cribs that convert to beds, dressers that can be used as changing tables, and trundle beds for future sleepovers.
Because the company's business is Web- and telephone-based, office attire is casual, and the partners say they exercise by keeping up with their kids, who visit frequently. Edmunds favors Aveda makeup and follows the skin-care regimen of actress Julianne Moore, whom she met through her husband, who works in the film industry. "Julianne has the most beautiful skin, and she told me she has used Alpha Hydrox-brand face wash and Oil of Olay for years. Now I do too."
Owning a business offers unique satisfactions, says Adams. "You devote many hours to the company, but you have the freedom to come and go, which is great for a mom. Best of all, success and failure are a direct result of your own decisions, and that's a good thing."
Copyright © 2002. Reprinted with permission from the March 2002 issue of Child magazine.