While we truly believe there's few things more beautiful than a woman's pregnant body, we also believe that not everything maternity should be body-con, and that a little drape can go a long way. Which is why we're enamored by Kali Liakou, the latest addition to the maternity landscape—designed to “dance" on a woman's changing figure.
The brand's founder, and NYC mom, Kali Liakos stayed away from elasticized fabrics and stretchy spandex when designing. Instead, she says, Kali Liakou is “meant to follow your body instead of your body following the clothes." Judging from her debut collection, though, we're guessing women--pregnant or not--are going to be following these clothes everywhere.
Below, Liakos fills us in on her drapy jumpsuits, flowy dresses and effortlessly chic tops you'll want to wear through pregnancy and well beyond.
What was your own experience with maternity clothes?
I actually looked into maternity clothing before I was even pregnant. I knew one day I wanted to be pregnant and wondered what I would be wearing. I wasn't thrilled with the collections, and when I actually got pregnant the first time and had to wear some maternity clothes, I was shocked at the prices and styles of simple things--things like staple black pants and jeans with a high waistband or ruched tops and empire-waisted dresses that I knew I could and would never wear again after pregnancy. But, in the name of fashion, I spent…. And I spent…. And I spent, until I thought my husband might leave me! I tried for as long as possible to wear my “normal" clothes or just bought larger sizes in things, or opted for the very obvious, easy spandex tops and bottoms. I thought, why--after all we go through as women--can't we just look good without all the extra trouble at this really special and sensitive time in our lives.
When did you start working on Kali Liakou?
It wasn't until a year after I had my baby boy that I got to work sketching with a friend. Every piece of my current line was sketched and draped on my pregnant body throughout the 9 months of my 2nd pregnancy. I'm just a regular woman, with a regular body going through the crazy changes of carrying a baby...the ups and downs of hormones, weight gain and loss, and wanting to look good while dealing with a then 1-year-old.
Tell me about the aesthetic.
Every piece of my line is made to be simple, classic and timeless. Just chic. I have avoided using fabrics with only elastic as I think, although it's beautiful to show off your body, I want each piece to “dance" with a woman's changing figure. I find this to be more interesting and flattering as a woman and especially while carrying. Women have a certain glow that is indescribable and unique while pregnant, and the clothes that they wear can definitely enhance that. All pieces are also easy to wash and don't need dry cleaning. They're easy to throw on or off, and can be worn morning to night, casual or dressy. Easy.
Who is the Kali Liakou woman? What's her style and ethos?
The woman I admire is one who is effortlessly chic and beautiful but most importantly confident in her own skin. I want there to be as little effort as possible into walking out of the house and looking amazing during this time, no matter where she's off to. School, work, shopping, entertaining, having dinner etc. Sometimes, clothes do make you feel good even when you don't. And I believe when you look good, you feel better.
Tell us a little more about the pieces in the line.
The fabrics in the line are all flowy and drapey. Easy to wash and easy to wear. They are meant to follow your body instead of your body following the clothes. Your body is changing and the clothes are changing with you. All pieces are meant to be worn before, during and after pregnancy. Prices range from about $150- $300.
What current pieces best embody the line, and what we can expect in future seasons?
The image of my line would be in a piece like Ismene. It is a beautiful flowy jumpsuit that could look like a dress. It's strapless and sexy and so flattering. From my personal experience, I think the best (and sexiest) parts of your body that you should accentuate at all times (and that never gain weight!) are your shoulders. How sexy is a woman with exposed shoulders?
So much of the maternity market is stretchy and body-con. What made you head in a looser, flowier direction?
I had a vision when I discovered that women could look so beautiful without feeling the need to wear something tight. While I do love tight clothes and I think they can very well be sexy, I don't think it's for everyone. The sexiest, most attractive is the woman that is confident and embraces her changing figure. I love the fact that the clothes drape your changing body. I think that is really sexy.
Many women think they can get away with contemporary wear or simply buy bigger during pregnancy. What's the value in wearing maternity while pregnant?
That's how I felt too! What I ended up with was a ton of oversized tops or dresses, which while they may work during pregnancy, are not useful when you're not. They are cut differently and are not especially made for embracing a belly. While I bought clothes that “fit" me at that period of time, if I got bigger or smaller, those pieces were completely useless to me. They were not meant to be transient pieces. They were of the moment. Looking back, I wasted a lot of money on clothes like that that I will never wear again.
How does being a NYC mom impact your design aesthetic?
Being a NYC mom can be super exciting and rewarding, and at the same time super stressful. Sometimes something as simple as getting to a playdate on time can be really intense. Personally, getting two kids fed, dressed and out the door is really trying. I've held high stress positions in the past and motherhood, in general, is so much more challenging.
Why is it important to you to produce the pieces in NYC?
Being a native New Yorker, it was extremely important to me to produce locally and to feel a sense of giving back to the city that has offered me so much. It is definitely a dying industry here, and it's sad that's the case, here in a city like NY, which is a mecca of fashion. I love the fact that I can produce more work for locals, and also that I can pop into my manufacturers with either one or both of my kids after school, and have a chat with the owner of the factory about my line and production.
Pregnancy is having a bit of a moment. How does that impact the maternity marketplace?
I think its great that so many chic renowned women are expecting. But while celebrities are iconic in many ways, I feel each woman should idolize herself. Life is tough, and I think we should think and feel more highly of ourselves in every aspect of our lives. We are so strong and do so much. While its human nature to be voyeuristic, I hate comparing myself to someone else just because they are famous. It's just not very realistic for me. I think as women, we don't give ourselves enough credit as to how beautiful and strong we are and how much we do and endure through life and at the end of the day, we should be our own icons.