What I Know About Style

Cecile Reinaud



Cecile Reinaud on running her own business and the pleasure of dressing famous bumps

What was the inspiration behind Séraphine?

My idea to create a brand of glamorous maternity wear originally came from my friends who were all having problems trying to find anything nice to wear while they were pregnant. As they knew I liked to design and create clothing in my spare time, they kept asking me to customise their non-maternity clothes, which lead to my most popular request – maternity jeans, which I created by adding a band of stretchy fabric to the front of their jeans and the rest, as they say, is history! A year after launching Séraphine I fell pregnant myself, which of course gave me further inspiration.

How do you balance work and family life?

I have two sons and balancing business with a happy family life is a constant challenge – but my lifesaver has been having a great nanny, as well as very organised planning to ensure some quality time with my kids. I work long hours but compensate by taking more holidays than average, to be there as much as possible during the school breaks.

You’re originally from Paris – why did you choose to make the move to the UK?

I moved to London straight after university for my first job in advertising with the agency Ogilvy and Mather and loved the working culture in the UK so much, that I never looked back. The British entrepreneurial mentality is fantastic and much stronger than in my home country – I often say that I am not sure I would have succeeded as well in France, to build a business from scratch. I also love the cosmopolitan mix of people that London offers, and my team reflects this, as we have over 10 nationalities at Séraphine. It’s something I value a lot and fits well with our brand that has expanded significantly internationally.

How did your grandparents inspire you to become a designer?

Both my grandparents produced high-end wool fabrics in the south of France and supplied the top Parisian fashion houses like Chanel and Lanvin. As a young girl I inherited vintage clothes made from these fabrics, which inspired my love of fashion and my urge to design.

What is the most important thing you’ve learned from running your own business?

Investing in good people as early as possible; to build a strong team is, in my view, the key to success. At the early stages of starting a business, it’s difficult to take the risk hiring people – especially when you start thinking of the growing salary bill you have to pay each month. However, without talent it’s impossible to grow – so this is one area not to compromise on!

What’s your favourite era for fashion?

I love the early ’60s and my fashion icons are Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot. Both have that classic way of looking sexy but sophisticated and it’s that combination that I aspire to when designing my collections.

What’s your favourite material to work with and why?

Silk is my favourite material because it always looks luxurious and I love the unique way it drapes on a woman’s body; it is also the main material I have used for our brand new Luxe collection – a sophisticated range of evening and bridal wear that I am very proud to be launching this year.

Can you name-drop some celebrity mum customers…

Famous bumps we have had the pleasure to dress are Sienna Miller, Jessica Alba, Kate Hudson, January Jones, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Garner – to name but a few! We have been very lucky.

What are your tips for dressing a not-so-discreet bump?

Accentuating your empire line is essential to thin the silhouette and asymmetric hemlines on tops work wonders to elongate your shape. Draw the eye to your new cleavage and add a splash of bright jewellery to bring out that pregnancy glow. Don’t be shy with colours, even big bumps can pull off the current trend of brightly coloured clothes. In the last trimester of pregnancy I would recommend figure hugging clothes rather than loose ones which will make you look bigger.

Besides family and friends, what could you not live without?

My iPhone! Not just for the business side of work – I also love taking photos of stylish people in the street who wear clothes that inspire me. From these snaps I create mood boards, which help inspire our collections. I’ve also got a great app that helps match any colour to a Pantone, which comes in handy when designing.

Do you collect anything?

My husband would say I collect shoes! I have a soft spot for Jimmy Choos.

How do you like to spend a perfect day off with the family?

At my holiday home in Provence, picking fruits from the garden to make jam – bliss!

What’s your life philosophy?

As Oprah Winfrey once said: “The biggest adventure you can ever take is to live the life of your dreams”.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I am addicted to chocolate. I can’t think of a day when I haven’t eaten it!

Séraphine branches include 28 Kensington Church Street, London, W8; www.seraphine.com

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