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Among certain fashionable 5-year-olds, the Lola et Moi store in Beverly Hills is the place to pick up chic little things you can be sure everybody else will not be wearing ... yet. The line is known for its structured, sophisticated look. “It reminds a lot of people of Marc Jacobs or Marni,” says the store’s thin, impeccably dressed owner, Sherine Taher, examining a green raincoat with red mushrooms. “A lot also say, ‘Can’t you make that in my size?’”
The clothes are happy, girlie and young. They accomplish a seeming impossibility these days: that is, to make little girls look like little girls. There was a trend for a while to make the girl look exactly like the mom. And the ubiquitous and alarming “tweeny” look of making the girl appear older than she really is. Lola et Moi rejects both of these fashion paradigms.
“Our clients really care what their kids look like. We do ages 2 to 6. That is our world,” Taher says. “There is always a whimsical adornment, an overriding sweetness.”
Lola et Moi was started by a young Lebanese woman, Rania Tohme, who began hand-sewing clothes after she became dissatisfied with the unexciting offerings in baby couture.
“For me, it’s like the ’50s in Paris,” says Mirela, one of Taher’s clients, who comes in twice a season, spends a couple of hours and buys everything her daughter needs, often in one sitting. “I usually buy four dresses, two to three skirts, six to eight T-shirts. ...” She turns to Taher. “Am I right on that one?”
Taher holds up a tiny cashmere dress in aqua, with a matching tiny cashmere bolero.
“It’s always the exact shade, so your wardrobe works together.”
“Everything works with everything,” Mirela says.
“Exactly. You want things that go with everything, and things that are more special.”
Things that are more special might include a $400 pink Gypsy coat: “It has the wow factor,” Taher says. Or a $300 hand-embroidered fuchsia silk dress: “Appropriate for baby’s first picture.” Or a $145 wool-brocade A-line retro shift with pink buttons: “I call this Jackie O.”
“The couture style is alive and well here,” Taher continues, carefully folding an heirloom-quality “baby bubble,” a cocoon of 100 percent pure silk. “The ‘style leader’ moms are the ones who buy us. We introduced some new silhouettes, like the folk skirt. And Easter dresses,” she says, rolling her eyes, “we’re known for that.
“It’s overwhelming. The people who come in for the first time usually make it to about here,” Taher says, indicating the middle of the store near the jumpers. “Boys’ moms are just not that invested in boys. The boys’ clothes don’t make your heart go pitter-patter.”
Talk of boys sparks a conversation between Taher and Mirela about what style Mirela’s daughter Lena might grow into. “I’m scared!” Mirela says. Lena, who is 5, has already gone through several fashion phases. There was the phase where she wouldn’t wear anything but skirts. Then the pink-only phase, which softened into only pink and purple.
One of the saleswomen comes over with a tiny silk handbag and says, “It just completes the look.” Her daughter has one just like it.
What do little girls put in their little purses? “Oh, she has a juice and a snack.”
A few weeks later, Lena takes time out of her busy kindergarten schedule to accompany her mother to the Lola et Moi shop. Like her mother, Lena is slim, pretty, leggy and blonde. She wears her hair in a little bob and has blue eyes. Lena also has some Burberry in her wardrobe, but this particular designer line has thus far not inspired the intense peer adoration as has the Lola stuff: When she wore a pink, fuzzy Lola jacket to school, her classmates engulfed her in a petting frenzy.
“You can choose anything you like,” says her mom. Lena gravitates toward the same striped dress they bought the last time they were in.
“Do you want to see one of my favorite outfits?” Taher asks. “This halter top with the cherry shorts. So cute. I would wear that. I’m gonna pull your size in this one.”
Lena tries on a purple halter dress with butterflies cascading down her back. “So pretty,” Taher says. “Can you imagine her with a bit of a tan in the summer?”
Next, Lena tries on cotton overalls. “It looks like a snowsuit,” she says dubiously.
“This is called a jumper suit,” says her mom, smoothing the pants.
“A jumper suit. Why? Do you jump in it?”
“Super, supercute,” says Taher, peeping into the dressing room. “And Mirela, you know they all come with the sweater.”