Q&A Prêt à Pregnant talks with: Graziella, founder of Spanish baby label Normandie
During our last visit to Barcelona we met the lovely and inspirational designer of succesful baby label Normandie! Meet Graziella Antón de Vez, designer and power mommy who founded Normandie in 2000 after her three sons were born.
We totally crush on her beautiful baby collection and we were so excited to meet with Graziella at her impressive store close to Parc Turo, a chic area in uptown Barcelona. Graziella was born in this city but worked in Paris for many years before joining Spanish children's label Antonio Miró in the late 80s. With Antonio she learned everything about colourful stitching and working with various fabrics, something she incorporated in her own label today.
She designs two annual collections based on history as her main inspiration comes from books. Normandie is a collection for the smallest of 0 to 36 months developed in natural fabrics and beautiful colours. And we asked her everything about work, family life and Barcelona….
What sparked your interest in designing baby clothes yourself after working for Antonio Miró?
I started my fashion career at Barbara Bui, even though this Parisian Label is gorgeous I felt something was missing in my designing career path. My interest was more drawn towards children's clothing and so I started to design shoes in Bensimon for French label Bonpoint. This is how I really got in touch with children´s clothing. I loved the different types of baby and children wear in Paris, it was so different at that time in comparison to what was available in Spain. After designing shoes I moved on working for Spanish label Antonio Miró but after 3 years the brand closed down. At the same time I had my 3rd baby and I decided to start my own label and that´s how Normandie Baby was born….I started the collection with pyjamas….
Does your experience of designing in Paris influences your current designs?
Yes absolutely, in Paris I discovered a lot of different colours for baby and childrens wear. In Spain it always was about rose for the girls and blue for the boys. Antonio Miró was such an inspiration for me as he was so talented in choosing colours.
Can you tell us more about the name Normandie Baby?
For my work in Paris I travelled a lot to Normandie to select fabrics and I totally fell in love with this place, the architecture, the beach, the style of the shops and the sophistication.
Can you tell us more about your choice of fabrics for baby clothes ?
We only develop in natural fabrics, think romper suits in soft merino wool, silk dresses in angora, cashmere wool coats, tasseled knit pants etc.
Where are the clothes produced and how big is your team?
We produce our collection in Italy, Portugal and Spain. But all the exclusive prints you find in our collection are our own design and the prints are still done in Normandie. Today our team consist of 13 dedicated people, all with a strong love for baby wear.
As a busy mom how do you combine motherhood with your career?
When my children were small it was though to combine motherhood and my career but I always managed. I would work from 8 in the morning without any interruption until 5pm, then I would pick up the kids from school and often I took them with me to the office so they could play there while I could finish up the work. In the beginning the Normandie Baby office would be downstairs in my house, that made things a lot easier in terms of logistics.
Do you feel something was missing in the world of baby clothes when your children were born?
Yes absolutely, I love translating design techniques used for adult clothing to kids and baby clothing. I felt that most baby brands didn´t work with materials such as tweed, merino and cashmere and I love these materials. That´s why I used all these ´adult´ materials in my current collection.
Do you feel Normandie Baby is a typical Spanish brand? And how do Spanish influences find their way into your work?
Yes it is absolutely a Spanish brand but definitely with a French twist. When it comes to the patterns my designs our very classical Spanish but mixing these patterns with out of the box materials and colours I felt in love with in Paris I try to create something renewed.
Are you self taught or did you study fashion design?
No I didn´t study fashion design, I always was inspired by fashion though and that´s why I started designing myself. Everything I know today I learned on the job in Paris.
What do you love most about Barcelona?
That´s a very simple answer: the sea of course!
Tell us about the inspiration for the SS16 collection, what´s the story behind this collection?
Most of my inspiration for the collections comes from books. For the SS16 collection I drew inspiration from the history of photography, one of my favourite subjects. This inspiration is translated in to the choice of colours and the ´vintage look´. The patterns are sweet and nostalgic with shades such as salmon pink, pale pink and blue grey. Also the materials are vintage inspired as we used lots of natural fabrics such as linen and cotton voile.
What´s your fave piece in the SS16 collection and why?
My favourite piece is this linen dress as it´s vintage but comfortable and elegant at the same time.
What´s your favorite baby clothing label next to Normandie Baby?
Bonpoint for sure.
Have you ever visited Amsterdam?
Oh yes I absolutely love Amsterdam. I visited twice with my family and one time I went there to attend a wedding and the party was so perfect.
Does your approach differ when designing baby boys wear compared to baby girls wear?
Well designing for the girls is more easy and I love the possible variation, dresses, skirts, tops, sweats, jumpsuits, capri pants and son on. For boys there is always less variation possible but obviously I love doing both. The fact that there is less variation possible with the boys challenges me to make it even better.
What´s currently on your reading list? What is your favourite book of all time?
At the moment I am reading a book called Friday by Michel Tournier.
What´s your favourite designer for women's wear and why?
My favourite brand for women´s wear at the moment is Stella McCartney, I adore the dynamic in her clothes and her modern approach to beautiful and outstanding shapes.
What inspires you most in life and where do you find creativity?
I find my creativity and inspiration in books, I love the stories of people and to translate this into collections. I was reading a book about the first plane that arrived to Antarctica written by Byrd and this book inspired me for the FW16 collection.
Do you follow Instagram for inspiration? If yes which accounts?
What´s your guilty pleasure?
Are there any fun (childhood) traditions that you share with your kids?
Yes I love to decorate the Christmas tree all together and we would hang it full with biscuits that of course are all gone before it´s even Christmas. This is a tradition I grew up with myself and I kept it because Christmas has something magical.
How is your brand developing on a global scale? And what are your future plans for the brand?
Normandie Baby is worldwide available but my ultimate dream is to have a flagship store in Paris and London.
Can you tell us a little bit about the FW16 collection?
I am so excited about the FW16 collection. I worked with a very special green colour shade and for the very first time we have pieces made out of 100% merino wool. In previous collections we always worked with a mix but now for the first time it will be 100%, making it oh so soft. Next to my favourite green shade I added a lot of other beautiful colours.