Founder and Creative Director of Isabella Oliver and the fashion brand Baukjen, Baujken Swaan Arons set up her company in 2003 out of sheer frustration, caused by the lack of stylish maternity wear available on the market.
Nearly a decade later, and with a cult celebrity following, Isabella Oliver is bigger than ever and every discerning fashionista’s go-to name for comfortable and stylish pieces. My Fashion Life caught up with Baukjen to talk party season style, fashionable mums and wardrobe staples.
Your womenswear brand was called Isabella Oliver 365 before being reintroduced as Baukjen. Tell us what inspired this change in name?
Originally, our womenswear collection evolved from the Isabella Oliver maternity line. It grew so much faster than we’d ever imagined and we felt it needed its own space to live and breathe. Separating the brands gives them both the space to grow to their full potential.
Name three wardrobe staples you cannot live without.
A leather biker jacket is an essential and a modern classic; our Agyness Leather Jacket has jersey inserts so its gives a great fit. I wear it over day looks but also over more dressy evening outfits.
Black ankle boots work with everything – leather leggings, jersey dresses, jeans and t-shirts – I’m constantly wearing mine.
I love stripes and this season I’m wearing them in jersey. Our caramel and black striped dress is great for quick and easy everyday style. I wear it over leggings, ankle boots and pop the black Maryna Blazer over it and add long necklaces.
Isabella Oliver Maternity was set up to provide stylish pieces for expectant mums; what experiences led you to specifically choose this market?
When I was pregnant with my first child it was very difficult to find stylish maternity wear that reflected my usual style. I realised there was a gap in the market and wanted to create a collection that would celebrate pregnancy curves and offer flattering, versatile and chic maternity clothes.
In three words, style is…
Effortless, classic and understated.
What are the key Isabella Oliver Maternity pieces every mum-to-be should own?
There are a few items that I believe are the building blocks for any maternity wardrobe and these are the pieces that our customers tell us they live in. Firstly, a pair of skinny maternity jeans is a must-have for casual days. Our Zadie Super Stretch Skinny jeans have extra stretch and offer a great fit.
You also need a few top quality jersey t-shirts that you can wear with jeans, layer up or wear for work. The Isabella Oliver Scoop Top is a wear-anytime top and features our ruched detailing so it fits at every stage.
Finally, a dress that you can style up or down will be invaluable, as you’ll get so much wear out it. I really love our Ruched Midi Dress; perfect for day under a jacket or for evening with a statement necklace.
Which celebrity mum’s style do you admire and why?
I love Kate Moss; her look embodies the London style whilst remaining her own. She’s cool, effortless and a real inspiration.
What are your top 5 picks from the Baukjen collection?
1. Zoe Knit Cardigan – I wear mine over a tee and skinny jeans
2. Agyness Leather Jacket – wear it anytime
3. Rosie Maxi Dress – my go-to dress for Christmas dinners and parties
4. Baukjen Clutch – my everyday bag and it fits my iPad
5. Ruched Jersey Dress – a huge customer favourite and mine too. Love it for day-to- evening
Of Paris, London, Milan and New York, which city is your style favourite and why?
London, of course! Our style really reflects the culture and diversity of the city and people aren’t afraid to push the boundaries and experiment with their look. London style is really effortless and I love that.
Which three Baukjen pieces are your party season favourites?
Go for sparkle at Christmas with the Kate Sequin Dress; its fab for parties and dinners. If you’re going somewhere extra special, the Rosie Maxi Dress will make an impact, or, for a fresh take on party style, the Lara Lace Skirt looks great with with a simple black tee or denim shirt for extra edge.
Finally, you have five minutes to pack a weekend break bag, which Baukjen pieces would you take and why?
I’d create a mini capsule wardrobe. I’d have to include an easy day look so I’d throw in the Ros Rib Dress as its super cosy and perfect for chilly days. The Freja Super Stretch Skinny jeans work extra hard because you can wear them with a knit for day then dress them up with heels at night. The Pippa Stripe Top works in easy layered looks and will look great with jeans. When it’s time to head out after dark, the Jessica Dress is perfect for a restaurant or party. Finally, you always need a blazer to throw on, so I’d include the sharp and chic Maryna Blazer.
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