Fashion: Chic for les petits

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Indy Lifestyle Online
At last, salvation for mothers and fathers who can see no farther than the workaday denim of Baby Gap: ex-model Rachel Riley designs children'swear to be worn by smart petits Parisiens. And her tiny, desirable clothes are available by mail order to the petits Anglais too, writes Kate Constable.

With photographs by her husband, Daniel Jouanneau, who normally works for such clients as French Vogue and Chanel, the 16-page catalogue includes a leopard print romper suit, a toile de Jouy dress and Liberty print pyjamas.

'I know the difficulty of buying nice clothes for children,' says Riley. 'It's either Little Lord Fauntleroy with satin bows everywhere, or rough and ready supermarket gear.'

Her clothes are successfully pitched in between. And despite the fact that Riley is an Englishwoman abroad, the clothes look, well, French. What's more, they are affordable.

The mail-order project has been a year in the making and it is obvious that Riley has put a lot of time and thought into what her customers want. Having three children of her own has helped.

So far, the response has been good, which must be a relief for the woman who ploughed the last of her modelling funds into setting up a workshop, buying fabrics and getting the catalogues printed.

Winter is already in the bag (catalogues will go out at the beginning of September) with a collection that includes ice-blue duffel coats, smocked dresses in wild colours and Thirties-style wool dressing gowns.

For next summer, the catalogue will expand to 24 pages with smocked tops and pedal pushers for girls, Liberty print swimming trunks for boys and waffle cotton bloomers and bibs for babies.

Although Riley is based in France, her packages arrive promptly and the booklet is in English with prices in sterling.

Catalogues can be obtained from Rachel Riley, La Roche Froissard, Gennes 49350 France; telephone 010 33 41 38 04 93.

(Photograph omitted)

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