We've always loved Paul & Joe for their preppy-meets-quirky aesthetic and their willingness to occasionally slap an adorable baby animal on an item of clothing. They've taken that signature charm and incorporated it into their latest category: housewares.
The fairly rapidly-expanding label (they recently added cat-themed cosmetics and childrenswear to their repertoire) just launched Paul & Joe La Maison, a huge collection of cookware, aprons, China, serving trays and more. And it's all really, really cute. For the launch, there are three styles: a floral print, a fish print and a cat print! The latter, for reasons we shouldn't have to explain, is our favorite.
We chatted with Paul & Joe designer Sophie Albou about her inspiration, her love of cats (but tragic allergy to them) and what's next! Read on for our interview with her plus more pics of the adorable collection, which will be available on Paulandjoe.com and in Paul & Joe stores.
Fashionista: Why did you decide to do a houseware line? Sophie Albou: I actually was thinking about it for a very long time. I truly enjoy and collect table art. When I host, I am always careful that the dinner table looks refined and elegant. I own modern as well as vintage pieces: Wedgood dinnerware, Herend china found at flea markets? Then I met a ceramic manufacturer who offered to create my own line, and I didn't hesitate. The idea of dressing a table like my customers immediately seduced me.
What was your inspiration when designing the collection? I was inspired by existing prints from my ready-to-wear collections that I particularly love, especially the animal prints: cats, fish and flowers. Paul & Joe's strength, since its inception, is its prints so I absolutely wanted to preserve this visual identity. I love the idea of creating a dinnerware collection that you can mix and match: a fish plate with a cat salad bowl, for instance.
How was designing houseware versus designing clothes? In a way it was easier because I selected existing prints. But at the same time, when I launch a new collection, I always want the best so in that regard it was just as hard to find the highest quality ceramic. I was also very careful with the rendering of the print, I wanted the colors to be as true to the original print as possible. I also heavily insisted on the packaging: I wanted the package to be as pretty as the contents. And the result is adorable and irresistible. It's a great gift idea. Finally, I paid attention to a little detail that makes women's life easier: the dinnerware is dish-washer safe!
What kind of customer do you envision buying your housewares? The same people who wear your clothes? This collection is for all people who love china, men or women, and who want freshness, color and novelty! Pretty much like my customers who shop our clothes...
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection? One that you couldn't wait to use in your own home? I love the egg cups! First because I eat a lot of eggs and also because they're not so commonly used anymore, especially in the US! I also love the apron, because it's rare to find fashionable ones!
We love the cat print and noticed you use a lot of animals in your clothes as well. Are you a big cat/animal person? I am! But there's a little story behind this: I've always loved cats but very early on we realized I was allergic to them. As a child I was so sad not to be able to own one, that I now put cats in all of my designs! This passion expanded to all animals in general such as owls, birds, koalas, giraffe, tigers, and if you visit our Los Angeles store, you'll find a giant Lama, a huge stuffed animal chair and more surprises! My kids often complain that our apartment looks like a zoo.
Now that you've done everything from clothes to cosmetics to accessories to housewares, what's next? Is there anything left? Linens are next!