SPECIAL REPORT

DAVID HO: ULTRA-SECRETIVE, AND ULTRA-RICH

Peter C. Newman November 28 2005
SPECIAL REPORT

DAVID HO: ULTRA-SECRETIVE, AND ULTRA-RICH

Peter C. Newman November 28 2005

BUNGING UP BABY

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Luxury products target a brand-new consumer

LIANNE GEORGE

As consumers go, babies are a bit exasperating. The average baby, for instance, doesn’t seem to care whether the carrier she’s being carted around in is the latest or most deluxe model on the market. She doesn’t waste time weighing the value of eating organic. And although she may look adorable in her miniature pink hoodie, it makes no difference to her whether it comes from Burberry or Wal-Mart, as long as it absorbs drool with relative efficiency. And yet— like the new pampered dogs, with their designer totes and Swarovski crystal collars— babies, unwittingly, are now among the most prolific consumers of luxury goods, increasingly treated to high-end fashion, cuisine and even skin-care products expressly designed to mirror their parents’ taste and lifestyle, as though they were living, breathing little brand extensions.

Fuelling this mini-me approach to baby-rearing is a new “upscale lifestyle magazine for soTW phisticated parents” called Cookie, being ung veiled this week by New York-based Fairchild co Publications. Billed as a “stylish and worldly ™ mom treat,” Cookie belongs to a genre of as° pirational shopping magazines like Cargo and in Lucky that uses fetishized product shots to paint irresistible pictures of a life less ordi¡¡¡J nary. The debut issue, which features US$ 145 ^ cashmere baby sweaters, a US$850 stain-reÉ sistant play rug, and tips on hosting a fabu-

lous evening soiree with baby in tow, suggests a glamorous image of parenthood far removed from dirty diapers and sleepless nights. This is a universe in which mothers teach their children to drink from modern Japanese sake cups and feed them gourmet baby food based on recipes devised by celebrity chefs like Robert Stehling and Sarah Moulton. In Cookie-land,

Gucci and Versace now outfit babies, and Holt Renfrew will soon introduce lines from Dior and Etro

every Sunday afternoon is a Madeleine-themed tea party at New York’s Carlyle Hotel. Just because you’re a mother, the message goes, it doesn’t mean you have to compromise your personal lifestyle.

According to Kim Becker, the owner of Baby Marketplace, an upscale online retailer based in Vancouver, the range of luxury baby products now available is mind-boggling—

and ever-expanding. “There are perfumes, organic foods, organic clothing and skin-care products,” says Becker, whose sales have increased by 700 per cent since she began her business five years ago. “There are essential oils, sprays to soothe, bath products to make baby sleepy and to rejuvenate.”

Most notably, trend-conscious mothers want high-quality, sophisticated fashion. “The sleeper generation, when you dressed your baby in a sleeper until they could walk, that’s gone,” says Becker. “These babies are dressed up. Soft-soled shoes are all the rage. The mom might have Uggs and so the baby has Uggs.” Designers like Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Versace have begun offering miniature versions of the kinds of outfits women are eyeing on the runways. In Canada, Holt Renfrew has announced its intention to reintroduce designer baby-wear in the coming months, including lines from Dior and Etro.

Luxury baby services are springing up as well and, as usual, Los Angelinos are ahead of the curve. One L.A.-based company called Homemade Baby will deliver fresh, homemade organic baby foods daily to your door, much like The Zone for babies. (They’ll even do kosher.) Playing off mom’s love of wine tastings, the company also hosts weekday baby-food tastings in which babies are invited to come and test which flavours they like best. For jet-setting moms, there’s Baby Delish, which offers a baby concierge service. The company will baby-proof hotel rooms, provide baby-friendly limousine service, and deliver top-of-the-line gear for play, bath or mealtime at a moment’s notice.

Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has a 19-month-old daughter, Apple, and who is rumoured to be pregnant again, is the archetypal Cookie mother. Stylish, rich and always noticeably thin, Paltrow reportedly spends her afternoons playing with her daughter, massaging her with organic skin lotions and feeding her macrobiotic fare. When Paltrow needs a little me-time, she’ll leave Apple with one of her nannies, toss on something fabulous and shop or yacht or dine with Valentino. No fuss, no muss. In the current issue of InStyle magazine, Paltrow wonders why more women don’t get into this mothering game: “I sort of look at some peers of mine and I think, ‘No, you’ve got it all wrong.’ I just want to tell them all to have babies and be happy, and not get sucked into that Hollywood thing.” M

IRELAND, WITH A PINT BEFORE THE BIG LAST CALL

An Irish nursing home insists that its elderly patients are living longer and more happily thanks to the opening of a pub on the premises. St. Mary’s Hospital in County Monaghan operates like any regular pub and charges similar prices. The home’s nursing director says that a pub’s social aspect prevents the life-shortening boredom that many elderly patients experience. Drink up, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.