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Flower Power

Local designer Lindsey Berns’ beachy bohemian spirit takes flight.

Lindsey Berns in her River North loft

“I design the way I dress; I dress the way I design,” says Lindsey Berns. “I’ve always been a blue-jeans girl wearing worn-in Levi’s and supersoft blue denim.” This laid-back comfort certainly comes through in the Chicago designer’s clothing line for children—and especially in her 2014 spring/summer Malibu Collection, brimming with whimsical faded denim and soft cotton in pastels of peach and lavender.

The Highland Park native learned to sew from her grandmother Shirlee, who, as a fashion student in 1946, designed an outfit for Miss America, Bess Myerson. After graduating from Northwestern, Berns applied her skills to handbags, earned her MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business and then developed her own popular line of hand-embroidered tops in New York, which were picked up by Henri Bendel and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Becoming an aunt a few years ago helped Berns discover her true muse. Taking inspiration from the clothing of her childhood—French linen pinafores, mountain artisan patchwork jackets and vintage denim jumpers—in 2010 Berns launched her luxury children’s line, a collection she describes as “part French provincial, part bohemian-hippy spirited.” Berns often draws inspiration from the fabric she sources herself from mills all over the world. “I love to find that one juicy bolt that’s been discontinued and scoop it up,” she says. Back at the vintage farmhouse table in her River North loft, says Berns, “I come up with my own designs, cut the garments, put on the appliqué and bring them to my local manufacturer to make me samples.”

The Malibu Collection features adorable girls’ jumpers, boho tops, pantaloons and more (size 12 months to 6 years) that let kids romp and play, whether it be on the shores of the West Coast or Lake Michigan.