The Bonpoint show at the Jardin du Luxembourg was perhaps one of the most enjoyable shows in Paris all week. What could be more fun than seeing a bunch of absolutely adorable smiling children sweetly parading down a runway made to look like a country cottage? Children trotted out in Bonpoint’s chic clothing to celebrate the brand’s 40th anniversary. Moments like two little girls holding hands and licking lollipops or a hyper little boy showing off down the runway were a nice reprieve from the usual fashion fare. For the finale, the children walked as petals fell from above, and Marie-Agnès Gillot put on a surprise dance performance.
We spotted W magazine editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi perched front row surveying his next buy for his two little girls. “I thought it was incredibly refreshing to see some young women without attitude enjoying the runway,” said Tonchi. “These are some of the few models I’ve seen this week actually smiling. I thought it was a great celebration of Bonpoint’s heritage and where they’re bringing the company. Seeing all of these kids made me a little nostalgic for my own children, because I’ve been on the road. I’ve been showing pictures of them to everyone.” Putting the show in a broader context, Tonchi added that perhaps we could learn a thing or two from shows like these. “There was lots of personality, which is sort of interesting, because somehow models today that can show that kind of personality or make a little bit of a clown of themselves—I’m thinking of Cara Delevingne—are the winners. I think maybe everyone should channel their inner kid a little bit more.” We do agree!
We caught up with Bonpoint creative director Christine Innamorato and CEO Sabine Brunner about the joy of designing childrenswear and what’s next for the brand now that it have four decades under its belt.
How did you end up designing children’s clothing? What were you doing before joining Bonpoint?
I was working for Cacharel, designing the women’s line, when Marie France Cohen asked me to take over the artistic direction of Bonpoint. I had such admiration for her, and I thought Bonpoint was a strong reference in fashion for children, with a poetic universe I could relate to…especially since I was dressing my daughter, Litchis, in head-to-toe Bonpoint. I could not refuse such a beautiful offer.
You’ve been with Bonpoint since 2006. How have you seen the brand evolve?
Since 2006, I would say that Bonpoint grew up a lot! It expanded to more than 20 countries—we now have over 100 boutiques. Also, our range of products is getting wider. We’re about to launch four new products within the skincare line, which is getting very complete. A new line, Bonpoint Couture, was introduced for the Winter 2015 collection. It reinterprets the iconic creations of Bonpoint, with extra care given to the high quality standards that define us. It truly is a tribute to our own savoir faire established over the years and the poetic universe that I want to keep on nurturing.
What trends, if any, are you seeing in the children’s market?
Children’s trends tend to follow women’s fashion, but as a designer, I really prefer creating clothes that will last, such as a perfectly tailored white shirt or a trench coat.
Is there an age that you love designing for the most?
Every age has its own interesting aspect, from the arch of the toddler to the androgyny of the teenager, but I would say that the 6-year-old size allows us more freedom in terms of cuts and shapes, whilst keeping the child-like innocent spirit.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love creating a complete and inspiring world around the clothes for a collection, starting from my inspirations that are often linked to my travels and discoveries.
What is most fun about designing for children?
Our clothes are designed especially for children—we do not have to adapt them from a design made for adults. I always keep in mind how they will live and move in our pieces in order to create comfortable and enjoyable clothes for them. My favorite challenge is to find new ways to reinterpret classical cuts, such as the smocked dress, and reinvent them with new colors and a fun twist.
Did you wear Bonpoint as a child, and did your children wear the label when they were young?
I did and so did my daughter Litchis. Now, she is in her 20s and I realize that she still wears some YAM Bonpoint!
Are there any limited-edition or special items for the 40th anniversary?
There will be a version of our signature fragrance, Eau de Bonpoint, and our first coffee table book, which I’m very excited about. We will also unveil more lovely surprises, but I don’t want to spoil them!
What is next for Bonpoint?
We are looking into an organic growth of our existing stores by extending the offer and stretching the price range toward high end but also toward more affordable pieces in each product category. We also are looking into new market shares by extending the offer of our teenager line and skincare line.
Does Bonpoint feel it has to compete with luxury brands that have entered the children’s market?
The difference between Bonpoint and these brands is that Bonpoint has always and only worked for childrenswear and accessories. It has always created and invented a style for children inspired by multiple references. For this reason it is unique and hard to copy. These other brands have taken the main codes of their adult lines and translated them into kids’ designs. They are mini adults, the opposite of what Bonpoint sees how children should look.