Today’s post written by Angela

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The Life InStyle trade-only event, incorporating Kids InStyle, the baby and kids component of the show, was held at the Royal Melbourne Exhibition Hall in Melbourne, Australia, from 31 July – 3 August 2009. The show presented over 500 exhibitors overall, with 200 of these specifically presenting products specifically for babies and children.

Life InStyle and Kids InStyle once again met expectations as the venue for the presentation of the pinnacle of quality designed products. Many exhibitors created succesful ‘environments’ for their products, with wonderful interpretations of artisanship, nostalgia, kitsch, chic European style and nature coming to the fore.

Applique, hand finishes, and attention to tailoring was strong through fashion ranges, while traditionally styled wooden toys, and retro styled accessories created to modern standards (eco-friendly, toxin free and ethically produced) were the order of the day.

Edwina and I attended the show, and we have put together our top 20 picks from this edition of Kids InStyle for you. Keep an eye out for this impressive best in show selection coming to stores in the lead-up to Christmas.

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1. (minimink) conveyed a lush, luxe and deliciously warm aesthtic with their range of soft faux fur blankets, hat, scarves, bears and pram inserts. Displaying exceptional quality, these products present the ideal solution to the cold of winter.

2. Sunday Morning Designs made their debut with their range of hand-illustrated textiles, linens, tees and incredible colouring books. The attention to detail in these drawings is fantastic, with each minute stroke adding to the personality and richness of the effect. The bedlinen is particularly notable, and the colouring books exhibit and imaginativeness that is bound to enthral children.

3. Olive’s Friend Pop launched their first collection to much applause, and rightly so: the vintage-inspired tailoring, detail and quality cotton and wool composition of these garments for babies, boys and girls is outstanding. These girls are ones to watch!

4. Knuffle Kid‘s thoughtfully designed capes and dresses for girls were a fashion standout, with their reversible features and fine tailoring evoking a 1950s feel, while their unique headwarmer hats bring a distinctly Scandinavian feel. Heavenly Creatures‘ carnival-themed designs for boys sat alongside, bringing a freshness into boys apparel.

5. Love by Geneine Honey have expanded their delightful timber and perspex jewellery range with a fantastic line of jointed timber and cardboard boy and girl 2D dolls and animals, which present stunning decor potential for children’s rooms. The cardboard versions offer up fun craft opportunities as parents as their children can decorate the designs and then assemble the piece, making for a meaningful end product.

6. Mercurius shone with their understated range of eco-friendly toys, including natural and vegetable-dyed timber toys, hand-made Waldorf dolls, and fabric farm animals, all made ethically in Germany. The standout piece was the colourful marble run, which sings a sonorous waterfall-like rhythmn as the wooden marbles fall.

7. Cheeky Little Soles displayed their extensive selection of sweet leather infant footwear designs beautifully. The softness and quality construction makes these tiny shoes perfect for little feet.

8. Great Dane presented a great selection of adult decor pieces, including these iconic birds designed by architect Kristian Vedel over 60 years ago. Still hand made by a single woodturner in Europe, they come in natural or smoked wood in small, larger or ‘chubby’ formats, and make great decor pieces as well as sweet playthings for children: the birds’ bodies and heads can be turned upside down and rotated to create a range of differenmt ‘expressions’.

9. OB Designs brought DINGaRINGS to market with their cute range of ethically produced all-in-one rattle, soft toy and teether. Each character comes with a name and personality description and is beautifully soft and fun, with a quality European-style finish.

10. Lark continue to exemplify the trend toward nostalgia with a superlative range of prints, books, cards, ethically produced crochet toys, colouring-in books, mirrors, and soaps. New products include the fabulous Miller Goodman Shapemaker puzzles and Clothkits DIY clothing kits, as well as 70′s vintage reissue By Graziela bedlinen.

11. Eco Peko came forward strongly with their environmentally friendly ethos, showing their fine range of 100% organic cotton within a 100% recycled cardboard ‘house’ structure. It’s great to see a move towards the use of organic fibres taking hold.

12. Mae has set a new standard in wall decals. Mae’s range of wall stickers uses a unique fabric (think iron-on patch type fabric in thickness and texture) to deliver a scrunchable, washable, infinitely sticky repositionable product in a range of gentle designs. I did my worst with this product – screwed up, tried to tear, and generally destruct it – and it emerged from the experience looking no worse the wear. A truly extraordinary product, standout designs include the Tree and Dress-up Doll designs.

13. Ohme Ohmi‘s Samantha Avery continues to develop her range’s appliqued, button detail clothing for girls and boys, with a gently folk-art vibe that mixes interesting textures and fabrics to beautiful effect.

14. Brio displayed an irresistably tactile selection of their richly lacquered glossy toys, including contemporary clean-lined ride-ons, a new owl stacking toy, and the iconic Dachshund Dog. Brio products represent a sound investment in a level of quality that will endure.

15. Alannah Rose presented the most inviting invitations for children’s parties at the show. I just loved the rounded corners on these invites: they evoke a giant playing card, which is a lot of fun, and the retro inspired fonts, coupled with contemporary stripes, gives a chic, sophisticated edge.

16. Cocoon Couture continue to lead the way with their beautiful range of pinwhale corduroy beanbags and cushions, shoulder and libary bags, height charts, timber book ends, mobiles and award-winning large decor pieces. Their new range of DIY wooden wall tiles and ‘Monster Couture’ bean bags and shoulder bags makes it even easier than ever to create decor impact in your child’s room.

17. Marquise impressed with their fashion designer project, through which fashion luminaries including Lee Mathews, Alannah Hill, Sass ands Bide and Peter Alexander showed just what can be done with a simple white singlet. These pieces were auctioned for a children’s charity, but you can take their lead and use classic Marquise pieces for your own creative endeavours.

18. Kellner Steckfeguren German made wooden toys made a splash with their colourful and personality laden characters. Bright and fun, these traditionally styled toys beg to be touched an played with, and are superb quality.

19. Moulin Roty delivered an unmistakably French retro feel through their rattan, timber and calico creations. With honeyed timber aeroplanes, rattan-hooded old-fashioned prams, woodworking benches, gorgeous blackboards and stacking blocks, Moulin Roty offer the highest quality play experience to children.

20. Lundby dollhouses have become the gold standard in this field. The attention to detail, which includes lighting and accessories packs that verge on tiny works of art. The Stockholm dollhouse pictured is Lundby’s mnost recent design, and features a closable pool draw.