In this edition of Chit Chat Tuesday, we get to know Manuela Maraczy, Creative Director of Hungarian label Manuela Kids Design. To learn more about Manuela Kids Design, visit their profile in the Junior Style fashion guide and be sure to check out influencer content showing the clothes in action!
JS: You describe your design aesthetic as ‘decorative minimalism’. What does that mean to you?
MM: I am from East Europe-Hungary, but I lived in Helsinki for nearly six years. I love the Scandinavian minimal design, it was very inspiring to be surrounded by functional design and purity. But from my background, I could never leave fully the colourful Hungarian decorative style, which felt quite the opposite to Finland. In my heart, I could not decide these feelings, therefore I thought let’s combine these two! I love printing by hand, which is so common in Finland, they use lots of patterns, but most of the time these patterns are geometric or very abstract. I mostly design flower kind of patterns which reminds me of the Hungarian floral folk style.
As a children’s clothing designer, I focus mainly on practicality, there is nothing worse than hearing your kids complain about uncomfortable clothing.
JS: You started out with a womenswear line in Helsinki. Is it still around? What made you switch to kids fashion?
MM: I am not planning to go back to women’s line but…I never say never. As my kids are growing, the sizes are growing too. And many times I am asked for some styles to be made for adults. We can make exceptions on some garments, it depends on the style. I switched to kids clothing because in at that time in Helsinki I did not find anything I would have loved my kids wearing. Because of the weather, kids wear mainly outdoor overalls and warm hats/scarves. Yes, it is very functional, but I was missing my colourful, floral style from Hungary, so that’s when I started to design.
JS: What are the unique design/business challenges associated with kids vs womenswear?
MM: As I see the womenswear market is very saturated. The kidswear market also, but I still feel that the designers are doing what they do from the bottom of their heart and not only for business. Still, we all need to make income. It’s not easy to find retailers, probably also because the market is smaller, but I see it growing each year. Unique design always requires more time and careful selection of fabrics and colours. Usually, many of us work in small teams, so it’s very difficult to be on time and still be special. Meanwhile, big brands have many midseason collections for the mass market. So the timing is very hard for me, but I try to focus on what I want to do with my brand. I have promised myself I will run my business as long as it brings me joy. This is the only reason for designing kids clothes.
JS: Tell us about your home city. What are your top three spots to visit with children?
MM: My home city is Budapest, I love the city because you can live in downtown, but still have a lot of nature around. The city hosts lots of festivals and there is always a lot happening, but what I like the most is the big differences in every area of the city. Because of my work, I often have to go to places where I have never been; they all look so different, sometimes I feel like a tourist. I like taking photos of interesting things like abandoned factory areas or nice gates.
I also like very much hiking, so near our house, there is a big forest and we go there quite often. When my kids and I have to have urban visits we often try new conditories (there are a lot of them in Budapest).
And lately, we had lots of theatre show, Budapest is really good in theatre for teens, too!
JS: What are favourite styles from your AW17 collection and why? (Pick two)
MM: If I have to pick only two items, then its the knitted bolero and the draped skirt.
I like the knitted bolero because this is the first collection when I really started to think about knits. I wanted something big, chunky and dramatic and I wanted to try myself in knitwear. I love these two colours together (navy and mustard yellow) and the shape of it is funky and a bit strange. I like strange things!
The draped skirt is an accidental design. Now I confess for the first time, it was just a piece of fabric what I put on the model to wear because there was a top which had nothing to pair with. But after the first photo shoot, people were asking about that skirt, so I had to design one. I just love to be freely creative.
JS: What is the best and most challenging aspect of motherhood at this moment?
MM: Well that is a very good and actual question! At this moment with two teens, the difficulty in my motherhood is to find how to help my kids to be independent, but still be aware of the limits.
My elder daughter started just recently go to school alone and come home alone. She is very brave and wanted to be independent for some years, but I did not feel ready for this. Of course, as a mother, I have all the bad scenarios of what could happen, and I feel the responsibility of preventing these scenarios even if it is impossible to prevent everything. My father’s ideology was to make me feel scared of the world and people, and unfortunately, it took so much time for me to start to be open about the surrounding world and to build trust on people. So when I was old enough I decided that this is not the path I would like to take to protect my kids.
I don’t tell all the bad stories what happen to others or what I have read/heard in the news. So, for example, I tell them the basics of do not talk to strangers or look around when you step down from the pedestrian to cross the road. We talk about this every day because repeating is better than frightening.
My elder daughter feels confident (I might have done a good job) which sometimes needs to be controlled because she thinks she can do a lot more than what she does now. And there is the fine line where I feel tension between telling her scary stories about what happens out there just to protect her. There are situations when I don’t really know what the best to do.
JS: What are your favourite self-care rituals?
MM: I need to watch an interesting movie or animation after they are gone to sleep. I do this almost every night. I am crazy about the Japanese Ghibli movies! There are some that are too scary to watch with my kids. So those I watch alone. Lately, I watched “When Marnie was there” from Ghibli. I just love it! I wanted to watch with my daughters, but from the trailer, they thought it was too sad and weird, so they didn’t want to watch it with me. I think the story is amazingly beautiful and reminded me a little bit of my own sheltered childhood.
When in Portugal I need to eat pastel de nata every day. It is a typical Portuguese dessert, that you can get almost from everywhere in Portugal, but not everywhere is good! I already know the best spots, in Lisbon and in the south.
This egg tart pastry has a crazy amount of egg yolk because back in the 18th century catholic monks used a lot of egg whites to starch clothes. So from the leftover yolks, they made lots of tarts and started to sell them. The tart is best when it’s fresh and hot with a little hint of cinnamon. I love it with a cup of cappuccino. Those are my moments of enjoying life when on my own!
JS: If you could make one wish and snap your fingers for it to come true, what would that wish be?
MM: I wish all my loved once to be happy. Where there is happiness there is health and love.
Shop Manuela Maraczy current Manuela Kid’s Design collection here. Free Shipping is available in the EU.
Or in these boutiques worldwide:
UAE – Brighteyez
UK – Fancy Kids
View Saint Idesbald Part One by Ahmed Bahhodh a beautiful Editorial featuring Manuela Maraczy, Kidswear Designs.
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All Images courtesy of Manuela Maraczy, Image 2 by photographer Ahmed Bahhodh, Image 4 by Anelia Alaudin.