Stylish mums and family flair

By Tracey Strange

Tracey Strange talks to three mother and daughter duos about their sense of style.
Emma is wearing a Zambesi top, Balenciaga trousers and handmade belt. Fiona is wearing a Zambesi skirt and Acne jumper. Photo / Guy Coombes
Emma is wearing a Zambesi top, Balenciaga trousers and handmade belt. Fiona is wearing a Zambesi skirt and Acne jumper. Photo / Guy Coombes

To front her summer eyewear campaign, a few years back Karen Walker eschewed the pretty pouts of teenage models in favour of a group of women between the ages of 65 and 92. Last year Joan Didion (81) and Joni Mitchell (72) signed on to head campaigns with Celine and Yves Saint Laurent respectively. At 69, Jane Birkin is the leading woman of Saint Laurent's new "Le Smoking" ads; Twiggy, at 66, is L'Oreal Professionnel's UK "it" girl; and, at 94, the face of style icon Iris Apfel is, well, everywhere. All are proof that fashion is starting to become ageless.

And why shouldn't it be? True style is less inherent, more learned — and often better with age. Producer Fiona Champtaloup, mother of London-based model Emma Champtaloup, says her go-to look for this spring/summer is a lightweight oversized white shirt, boyfriend jeans and white sneakers.

Stylist Paris Mitchell says the only time she would ever raise an eyebrow at her mother Jude's choice of outfit is "when she's wearing exactly the same as me".

Even when she's gardening, Lynne Browning, mum of writer and Canvas columnist Megan Nicol Reed, likes to "wear clothes that go well together".

While there are exceptions to every rule, it's apparent that style is more often passed down from mothers to children than not. (Who wouldn't want to be Georgia May Jagger raiding the wardrobe of Jerry Hall? Or Bee Shaffer receiving hand-me-downs from mum Anna Wintour, for that matter?) Mothers who have encouraged a love of fashion in their offspring; daughters who celebrate, not cringe, when Mum pulls out the Doc Martens.

Here, then, are three stylish mother/daughter duos — and proof, should it be needed, that good taste definitely runs in genes. Like mother, like daughter ...

Emma Champtaloup, model and healing practitioner, and Fiona Champtaloup, producer

Fiona: "Since Emma was 3 or 4 years old she has always been very certain about what she wanted to wear. As she has grown, she has taught me to be more creative with my dress style and occasionally persuades me to buy something other than black. She went through a very hippie stage when she was around 18 to 20 - I don't think many of her clothes would have cost more than $20. I wasn't too keen on some of these outfits but she always seemed to wear them well. She has an amazing knack of transforming a simple outfit into something quite different by giving it an 'Emma' twist."

Emma: "We both don't hold back on telling each other what we think on our outfits, as mothers and daughters do. She introduced me to androgynous dressing at a very young age. Her style is powerful like she is. She's not into frills, or colour, so a lot of my simple classic vibes were inspired by her. Her style has never changed. Her wardrobe would be as current now as it was in the 90s. She is a great investment buyer."

Meeting of minds

Describe your style in three words ...

Fiona: "Individual, comfortable, structured."
Emma: "Classic and simple with a few eccentric moments."

Do you always have to look stylish?

Fiona: "I'd like to say yes but sometimes I'm in a rush and I don't have much time to plan. I always have a few go-to outfits."
Emma: "It's not at the top of my list - being warm is always most important. But I wouldn't leave the house without feeling good in what I was wearing."

Megan Nicol Reed, writer, and Lynne Browning, interior designer

Lynne is wearing a Cos dress and Tom Ford glasses. Megan is wearing a Country Road blouse and Witchery trousers. Photo / Guy Coombes
Lynne is wearing a Cos dress and Tom Ford glasses. Megan is wearing a Country Road blouse and Witchery trousers. Photo / Guy Coombes

Megan: "My mother has always sewed. As a little girl, a young woman, a mother, and now a grandmother. For a hobby, then her living, and now pleasure. She made all my most memorable outfits. Ball, bridesmaid, wedding. We would design them together. I remember she made me these high-waisted black velvet hotpants and an apple-green chiffon shirt with diamante domes to wear nightclubbing when I was 18.

"The first night I ventured out in them she had some friends over, radical lesbian feminist separatists, and when I finally made an appearance, showing a lot of leg and breast, I was doubled over with embarrassment. I imagine her friends were gobsmacked, and in her shoes I would have probably felt pretty awkward about exactly what sort of statement my teenage daughter was trying to make. But she just said, 'You look beautiful, darling. Stand tall.'

I love to watch people on the street and if I see someone wearing something that inspires me — a cut or a colour — I'll go home and sketch it, then make it.

"A few years ago at a party, and wearing a pair of hotpants, funnily enough, I overheard these older women bitching about how I was dressed. At first I wanted to hide and then I suddenly heard mum's voice, and I thought, 'Nah, stuff you,' and I went and danced right in front of them. Mum and I have completely different styles. We always have. But she allowed, no more than that, she entrusted me, to develop my own."

Lynne: "I remember having terrible arguments about the look Megan favoured at age 12 or 13. It was black hoodies, black karate shoes and ill-fitting jeans, kind of early grunge. I think I was unreasonable in hindsight. She also went through a period in her late teens and early 20s, of dressing in a style that could best be described as ... um ... 'trailer trash' that I really struggled with. But as she's got older, I've loved all her clothing and style choices. She wears beautiful pieces confidently and cleverly. I would say she is comfortable in her body and not afraid to choose clothes that are flattering and commanding."

I am in awe of women who are always well-groomed - you know, encased in head-to-toe cashmere with a permanently swishy bob. But I do wonder whether they're not missing out somehow on the joy of schlepping about in trackies ...

Opposites attract

What's the best thing in your wardrobe?

Megan: "A pair of skinny black leather pants that cost me an arm, a leg, and a couple of organs."
Lynne: "My black suede chisel-toe R M Williams boots. Best boots ever."

What's the most tragic thing?

Megan: I am incredibly ruthless with my wardrobe. Twice a year I review its contents. Every garment has to earn its place. Do I still wear it? If yes, is it still in good enough nick? If not, is it spectacular/timeless enough to stick around until the next cull? So the long answer is nothing - hopefully tragic never makes the cut."
Lynne: "Ugg boots. Ugh. So curl-up-in-front-of-the-fire comfy though. Wouldn't be seen dead outside of my house in them."

Paris Mitchell, stylist and co-founder of online store, The Mercantile, and Jude Mitchell, co-editor and publisher of Verve magazine

Jude is wearing an Issey Miyake Pleats Please jacket and trousers. Paris is wearing an Ellery dress. Photo / Guy Coombes
Jude is wearing an Issey Miyake Pleats Please jacket and trousers. Paris is wearing an Ellery dress. Photo / Guy Coombes

Paris: "My mum has shaped my style in more ways than I can remember. She's is always creating and inspiring, whether it be in the way she styles herself or decorates her home or the way she runs her business.

"It's always done with such ease and style.

Our family calls it 'Judifying'. Mum has always nurtured the way I dress — even when I was into wearing three-inch platforms to school at 7 years old."

Mixing old with new is something I've always naturally gravitated towards — making sure I wear the clothes, not the other way around.

Jude: "Paris has always been interested in style. I remember from an incredibly early age she would sketch shoes. We had builders working on our home at that time and she asked them to build high wooden platforms on her shoes. She has a beautiful ease about the way she wears her clothing — her style always looks incredibly sophisticated.

There is always has a point of difference when she dresses. She mixes vintage and new together with such ease — it's like they were invented together."

I love rummaging through Paris' wardrobe — she always says to me, 'Help yourself to anything you wish.' Sharing clothing is a big part of our life.

A stylish pair

Has Paris taught you anything about style?

Jude: "Yes definitely. One of the things I cherish is that she has taught me is to buy quality not quantity. As we age we sometimes loose a little confidence so for me I adore having Paris around to boost me a little. She is the best."

What's the best thing in your wardrobe?

Paris: "The dress Mum wore in the Miss Auckland pageant in 1969. I had it restored and it's so incredible. It was thanks to Mum and this dress that I found a love for bringing vintage clothes back to life, which led to The Mercantile."

- Canvas

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