Into the woods

It’s that time of year again – I’ve brought my doona out the fans are finally still, my morning mango has been replaced by a bowl of hot porridge, the frangipanis are falling fast and the evenings come dark and cool. As regretful as I am to say farewell to a Sydney summer, I do love autumn in this town. Bright and crisp and lovely, autumn puts the spring back into a step that has been weighed down for months by heat and humidity. Out come my ankle boots and a palette of colours that reflects the shift in the weather – Sydney still sparkles but my airy blues, tropical aquas, prettily embroidered whites, and whisper soft pinks make way for ruby red, deep navy, charcoal, chocolate, black, cream and dusky rose.

lovisa-top-morel    yvonne-top-maroon

While the city is very much my home and the harbour and beaches are so close by, autumn tends to lead me away from the sand and toward the bushland that edges our neighbourhood. It is dense with colour and texture and bird song and I’m always amazed by how quickly the city recedes as the forest embraces me.

It’s this feeling of heading into the woods with a sense of adventure and mystery and closeness to the natural world that inspired our new collection for Kaja. We wanted to create pieces that would translate easily from the indoors to the outdoors and keep the wearer looking as elegant as she felt comfortable in any setting.

Working with layers is always a key part of our style and there are plenty of opportunities with this collection to play with different lengths, textures and prints. And if you are not ready to dive into the depths of a winter palette, there are pops of vivid colour and washes of pale dusky tones to keep the gloom away. My favourites are the Ines cardigan in dusty rose or the jewel-like Linda tunic.

    

Jeans become a staple at this time of year and I’m always on the hunt for ways to make them look fresh and interesting. I love the soft boho drape of the printed Sandra top or the chic relaxed elegance of the Hedda button up shirt in black. Tops with flattering lengths, smart tailoring and beautiful detailing take the generic out of jeans and make for a style that you can truly put your own stamp on.

hedda-top-black    sandra-top

So come into the woods with us this season. Autumn has never been more inviting and our new collection will take you from shadowy forests to sunlit glades and all the way home to your fireplace with a light and stylish touch.

April 12, 2017 by Helene Pilhage

News from KAJA

We are very excited to be introducing two new ranges to our collection later this year, just in time for the summer 17/18 season – Kaja Active and Kaja Homewares.

I know for myself how much of a difference it can make to my levels of motivation and momentum to do my exercise in something that I feel great in – from the cut and print, to the fabric and breathability. It’s not easy to fit exercise in to the day between work, parenting and everything else but having something fabulous to put on as you head off to pilates class, for a walk with girlfriends, for a sprint around the oval, or for a much-needed time out at yoga, can take it from being a bit of chore to being something you look forward to throwing yourself into.

 

 

And with that in mind, we’ve developed the pieces in our Kaja Active collection to be stylish and practical, flattering and functional. In sleek black with pops of peachy pink, we’ve got fabulous leggings with mesh inserts and tank tops that will take you from the gym to your favourite cafe. And in soft grey marle and dusky blue, we’ve got yoga pants and singlets that will make your next downward dog a pleasure to behold! Whether you’re warming up or cooling down, the Active collection has got you covered. We’ve use fabrics designed to move with you and robust enough to take you from a training session right through to the end of your day, look and feeling fantastic. My personal favourite is the jewel-like slashes and swirls of colour against black in the print which, true or not, makes me at least feel like I’ve run faster, lifted more, and stepped higher!

 

 

Our other new baby for 2017 is a small but perfectly formed homewares collection. We’ve been inspired by the classic charm and beach chic of the Hamptons for this range which features striking chevron, quatrefoil, stars, and nautical prints and patterns in blues and reds with white and cream. Woven from soft, luxurious knitted cotton, our throws, cushion covers, and table linens evoke long lunches outdoors with friends, all sandy feet and salty skin. The prints are bold enough for the brightest of summer days and the knits cosy enough to keep you comfy as the evenings turn cool and the breeze gets up. Easy to mix and match, these pieces are robust enough for outdoor living and luxurious enough to wow guests with an ever so stylish summer evening’s soiree. With a nod to the allure of Montauk and Sagg Beach, our cushions and fabrics retain a distinctly Sydney vibe and are named for some of our own favourite beaches – Bronte, Coogee, Collaroy and Palm Beach. Bring a little beachy Pacific home with you today with our Homewares collection. We can’t wait to share it with you!

 



2016 was a fabulous year for us and we are thrilled to now be stocked in over 200 shops across Australia and New Zealand. And of course we will always be available for you here at our online store. We are delighted to continue to work with some of the same garment producers that we have been with since the start and can assure our customers that the equitable work conditions in these factories is something we take seriously and monitor closely.

We are excited to get the new year underway and are looking forward to sharing our new season ranges with you along with these new collections, Active and Homewares. Thanks for coming along for the ride!

Helene x

February 28, 2017 by Admin KAJA Shop

The Season for giving...

We give for many reasons, and one of them is usually that it makes us feel good. And sure, I accept that this selfish need to feel better is usually part of any charitable gesture. But I don’t think that’s such a bad thing at all – in fact, I think it’s one of the occasions upon which selfishness is a very understandable and even desirable quality! And it’s only part of the reason that we give. The desire to share our good fortune with those who are having a hard time is a very powerful one after all. Especially at this time of year when the excess of Christmas can seem a little overwhelming or just when the happiness we experience from sharing special time with our loved ones is tempered by the knowledge that many are not in a position to do the same.

Image result for christmas and giving

Kaja has given clothes and underwear to a range of organisations over the past years including to the Women’s Refugee Centre, the Uplift Project, the Breast Cancer Foundation, victims of natural disaster both in Australia and overseas, Hope Love Live, and Pink Hope. As members of a local community to which we are much attached, we always enjoy participating in community events like the Biggest Morning Tea and the assorted school activities and events that our children are part of. Yes, it makes feel good but it also connects us to our community and keeps things in healthy perspective. Plus, it’s often hugely fun! The energy and originality of the people organising such events is wonderful and they sure know how to throw a party!  

christmas giving

I’m proud that the business we started can make these useful contributions. I strongly believe that the ability to be adequately clothed is essential to human dignity. While clothes can often be seen as a frivolous extravagance, clean, dry, well-made, attractive clothes can serve to provide not only comfort but can afford people the opportunity to go out into the community and into the world with confidence. Clothes can protect us – not just from hot sun or cold wind, but from disrespect, judgement, and fear. People who are in crisis – whether it be from illness or other desperate circumstances – are often people we look away from because they appear so obviously wretched. Clothes are at least partly something that can help with this. And it’s a privilege for us to be able to assist, even in some small practical way, the members of our local and global communities who are in need.

As customers of KAJA, your support is also a big part of what allows us to make these donations. So thank you. We want you to enjoy wearing your beautiful summer tops, embroidered dresses, lacy tunics, and floaty skirts more than ever this festive season as we count our blessings with joy and gratitude!



Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

From KAJA

xx

Images via: http://www.greekboston.com/christmas/giving-gifts-christmas/

http://theparentingfiles.com.au/giving-this-christmas

 

December 13, 2016 by Admin KAJA Shop

Flourish in florals


Spring time in Sweden was always a favourite time of year for me. The way it transformed the cities and parks and the countryside into a floral wonderland after such long, cold winters always seemed truly magical. Australian spring time was a different kind of revelation – yellow wattle and vivid red bottlebrush crowding my street and those September winds playing havoc with my allergies! As much as I have grown to love the unique beauty of the Australian native wild flowers, it’s the cottage bouquets of freesia, crocuses, poppies, tulips, bluebells, cornflowers, hyacinths, and roses – always roses – that I still adore and turn to for design inspiration. While floral prints may be perennially in bloom, it’s in the spring and summer collections that they can really flourish – whether it be a subtle flower motif in a lace panel, the simple curved line of an embroidered leaf around a neckline, or an all out abundance of gorgeous blossoms dancing across a frock.

   

Our rose print for this collection has a lovely antique feel to it which adds a little restraint to what might otherwise be a just too outrageously pretty print. There’s a charming vintage vibe to these blousy summer roses that lends itself to the addition of plaited leather belts, tan sandals or ankle boots, a denim jacket, jangly bangles or a wide-brimmed straw hat. It is ultra feminine but playful enough to take on a boho edge or a bit of rock chick chic.

     


I also look to Sweden for inspiration from the old decorative folk art practise of rosmålning or kurbitsmålning. It dates back to the 18th Century and has since has been transformed and reinvented many times over and, like so many traditional styles, has made its way into fashion and interior design (Pinterest is flooded with new versions of this old art form!) But the highly stylised ornamentation in often vivid colours remains a real feature of the art and I love the traditional decorative European touch it can add to a contemporary Australian beach garment.

    

October 20, 2016 by Helene Pilhage

Cottoning on to Cotton

Cotton sheets that have been dried on a line in the sunshine, translucent cotton curtains shifting in the breeze, a bright cotton sarong laid out on the beach, freshly ironed cotton napkins, a favourite cotton shirt softened over years of wear, cotton pillowcases handed down from a grandmother... cotton is in our lives as one of our simplest pleasures - an everyday luxury. 

From the day we are born, cotton is the fabric most desirable to have against our skin.
Gentle but durable, delicate but also strong, it is the material we seem to instinctively gravitate toward as the only suitable choice for what to put against the skin of an infant. Diaphanous muslin wraps, snugly cotton blankets, teeny cotton singlets, fresh cotton sheets – cotton is a fabric that respects and nurtures. It filters harsh light, lets in the breeze, cools in hot weather, warms in cool weather and is wonderfully absorbent.

The word cotton is derived from the Arabic ‘qutun’ or ‘kutun’ which is the word used to describe a fine textile. Cotton has been cultivated for centuries and fragments of cotton dated from as long ago as 6000BC have been excavated in the Indus River Valley near Pakistan. There are a large variety of cotton plant species and Australia has a particularly diverse range. The plant itself is a wonderful thing with the soft fibre growing in a boll on the plant (some cotton even grows on trees) – it is delightfully fluffy and soft and is extraordinarily versatile in its uses. We of course know it best as the fabric we love to use in clothes production – denim, terrycloth, twill, chambray, seersucker, corduroy, muslin, yarn – but it is also used in the manufacture of money notes, tents, oils, filters of all kinds, fishing nets and book binding to name a few.

Australian summer is no better context for the sweet and simple luxury of beautiful cotton clothes. I’m already enjoying the swish of my cotton maxi skirt around my legs and can’t wait to change my ankle boots for sandals and bare my arms to the sun. As you know, here at Kaja cotton is our favourite fabric to work with and we use it extensively in both our winter and summer collections. It is, however, during summer of course that our cotton pieces really come into their own. I love the tissue soft Indian cotton of our Elizabeth tunic which combines a delicate vintage vibe with a contemporary boho-chic style.

       

The crisp green pintucked cotton of the sweet Emmelie dress will put an instant spring in your step and the antique blossom print of the Carissa tunic will have butterflies landing on your shoulders.  

And just as cotton can be floaty and whimsical and intricately detailed, it can also be elegantly structured and tailored and we are delighted to introduce the Fay trousers into our spring collection which, paired with simple white or vivid orange, make for a versatile and stylish day-to-evening, work-to pleasure-option.

So have a little stroll through our collection online and make your summer soft, cool, breathable and simply luxurious with cotton.

 

Sheets image via Omimattress, baby image via Essential Baby

September 21, 2016 by Helene Pilhage

Spring is on the horizon

This week I did something I haven’t done for a few months – I took off my shoes after my morning walk and went for a paddle along the beach! The sand was icy cold that early in the morning but the water felt beautiful against my skin and with the sun against my back and the first bunches of jonquils starting to appear at my flower market, I thought to myself “finally, spring is on the horizon”. I know there are many chilly nights to come before the jasmine starts to fill the air and I can go further than ankle-deep into the water, but it’s those first lovely hints of a shift in the days that mean I can start anticipating my favourite season and begin the process of lightening those winter layers and introducing new season elements into my wardrobe.

      

Like many others, I’m getting plenty of inspiration from Nina Proudman’s wardrobe on the current season of Offspring and love the way she (or at least that clever wardrobe department!) mixes feminine prints and soft floaty cuts with a more substantial scarf or jacket or boots to create a look that is wearable, comfortable, and gorgeous. In a market that seems obsessed with cropped lengths and exposed flesh, we love the way “Nina” incorporates longer length tunics and tops and plenty of long sleeves into her look.

Nina Proudman from Offspring Channel 10  Nina Proudman from Offspring Channel 10  Nina Proudman from Offspring Channel 10

I’ve always loved working with length for the Kaja collections and the new Spring collection is no exception. Whether it be a maxi skirt or a tunic-style shirt, longer lengths can be super flattering and versatile and give you lots to play with – tuck it in, wear it loose, belt it up, tie a knot, layer it!

     

There’s no doubt that trans-seasonal dressing can certainly be tricky. The days start chilly, warm up enough that you start contemplating your first swim of the season, then suddenly the temperature drops, the wind comes up and you don’t know whether to pack away you winter coats or keep them out for another few weeks! The key is to really enjoy that milder part of the day which calls for pretty details that don’t have to spend the whole time hiding under jumpers and coats. Sure, take a jacket and scarf, but switch up your palette to introduce white or change your dark burgundy nail polish for a crisp bright red. Sure, they are little things but they signal that move into the sweetest time of year that can just put that anticipatory spring in your step. A couple of my favourite pieces from the new Kaja spring collection are the Jacinta tunic and the Dawn top and yes, still I’m wearing them with a jacket or sweater but at least there’s a pretty glimpse of print or broderie or lace peaking through – just like the first buds of spring blossoms.

     

We can't wait to share the new collection with you. Watch this space!

 

How to wear necklaces in winter

Some days it’s just so chilly that all you want to be is warm. Concerns about style come second to the driving need to be cosy. You throw on as many layers as you can, put a big scarf around your neck and throw a coat over the whole lot in order to brave the wintry air. I totally get it. But I’ve found that one of the easiest ways to add a just a little touch of chic to even the most utilitarian of cold weather outfits is to add a simple but striking necklace. Fine chains and pretty pendants can get lost in all those woolly layers. But something a bit bolder can be just the thing to take your winter look up a notch.

I’m excited this season that Kaja has introduced a selection of necklaces to its range of accessories and we are getting great feedback from even the most accessory-resistant customers that they are a super easy, super stylish way to add the finishing touch to a look.

Try wearing one of the long Miranda necklaces over a knit top with a circle scarf around the neck. The length of the necklace means it won’t get lost under the scarf and its proportions make it the perfect addition to winter-weight clothing.

Scarf & necklace inspo

Image via Pinterest

Kaja's Miranda necklace

If you’re forgoing the scarf for a turtle neck knit, try a shorter length piece, like the Nellie necklace, to add a little drama to your look. A shorter necklace also pairs well with a high neckline or with a crisp white shirt.

Short necklace inspo

Image via Pinterest

Another good tip to keep in mind while you're piling on the layers - don't be afraid of colour! If your clothes are fifty shades of grey, then use your necklace as an opportunity to add a vivid pop of colour.

As you know, white is one of my favourite colours to wear all year round and I'm a firm believer that pale colours don't have to be stuffed to the back of the closet as soon as the temperatures drops. One of our best-selling necklaces has been the Miranda in the pale grey green - paired with white it makes for a beautifully fresh and crisp take on winter styling. 

So sure, stay cosy, keep warm, layer up. But just take that extra moment to pop on some beads or a chunky bangle. It will add texture and interest to your outfit and will stop you from getting the bored winter fashion blues!

June 21, 2016 by Admin KAJA Shop
How a black leather jacket changed my life

How a black leather jacket changed my life

As I’m sure it was for many of you, purchasing my first ever leather jacket as young woman was something of a rite of fashion passage. I had lusted over a buttery soft, licorice-black, cropped and fitted and fabulously studded jacket for months but when the moment of truth came, I remember finding myself suddenly unsure. 

Francoise Hardy     Madonna    Debbie Harry

Francoise Hardy, Madonna, Debbie Harry

What made me hesitate at the counter wasn’t that I didn’t have enough money – I’d worked hard to save enough to finally buy it – but that I worried I didn’t have the necessary chutzpah to pull off what I saw to be such an glamorously edgy item of clothing. Is there anything that adds sexy drama, mysterious chic, or devil-may-care insouciance to an outfit – or to the person wearing the outfit – more than a black leather jacket?! Was I that girl? Could I be that girl? I wanted to throw my jacket on over a pretty lace dress like Madonna. I wanted to wear it with all the casual effortlessness of Francoise Hardy. I wanted to rock it like Debbie Harry. 

That jacket offered up all this possibility and excitement – it could transform not just my wardrobe, but my very identity – look what happened to Sandra Dee in Grease!
No wonder I had a moment of existential crisis! But it lasted only a moment as the sales girl – who must have detected my angst - looked me in the eye and gave me some advice I’ll never forget – “remember”, she said “it’s not the jacket that makes the woman, it’s the woman that makes the jacket.” 

Helena Christensen recreates Marlon Brando      Olivia Newton John in Grease   Madonna

Helena Christensen, Olivia Newton John, Madonna

One of the things I enjoyed most about it is that rather than making me feel less feminine, the black leather jacket – once strictly the property of guys only – only added to my feminity. Its ruggedness and boxy shape and padded shoulders (yes, padded shoulders!) served as the perfect foil to all my pretty florals, lace and broderie, pintucks and crochet. I never felt so feminine as when I was wearing that roughed up, studded leather jacket over a gauzy frock. And it’s a look that never seems to date (padded shoulders aside!) as women continue to make the leather jacket an absolute staple of their every look and guise.

So you can imagine how thrilled I am to have the stunning Mia jacket included in this new season collection – our first to feature leather but I think certainly not our last. It has just the right amount of chic elegance combined with tough luxe to make it a versatile must have. There’s no better way to own your look and rock your style than with a black leather jacket. I hope you enjoy this one!

Mia Leather Jacket from Kaja Clothing 

 

 

 

 

 

April 15, 2016 by Helene Pilhage

Coffee and fashion - a beautiful friendship!

For our 2016 Autumn Winter Collection we started with one of life’s greatest simple pleasures and one that Australians and Swedes are very passionate about – coffee! In Sweden we have the word ‘Fika’ to describe taking a coffee break with friends or family. In our design studio, having a coffee and a chat together is an important part of sharing and developing ideas in a relaxed way. We wanted to bring that sense of shared space and time, of casual conversation, of an easy exchange of thoughts and news and ideas, to our latest collection. Like you, we know that it is often that spontaneous chat over a quick coffee in the kitchen or the local café, which can lead to moments of inspiration and creative breakthroughs, not to mention to friendship.

And so it is with great pleasure that we present a collection that will take you from the sanctuary of your own home or favourite cafe to the hustle and bustle of your workplace out into the bright, busy world. With cotton knits in both short and longer lengths, a versatile range of tops and dresses, and lined cotton jackets, this season we have you covered for work and play with pieces that are always easy to mix, match, and layer. Add to this a great range of accessories including leather and canvas handbags, faux leather and fabric bead necklaces, and a palette featuring mushroom, navy, red, grey and our beloved black and white, and you are all set for Autumn and Winter.

So whether you’re grabbing a café latte in the park with friends, talking business over a quick cappuccino, or making eyes at someone over a late night espresso, make your ‘Fika’ a stylish one with KAJA Clothing.

March 24, 2016 by Helene Pilhage

Five Swedish actresses who make us swoon

With the Academy Awards just around the corner, I am feeling especially patriotic and thrilled to see the very gorgeous and talented Swedish actress Alicia Vikander nominated for The Danish Girl.

 

It got me thinking about all the beautiful, unique actresses that have come from Sweden – they have such a distinctive and yet enigmatic quality. They are glamorous, but also a little mysterious – it’s a very charismatic combination. Here are a few of my favourites:

Ingrid Bergman

Because of course! She is one of the great Swedish beauties and a Hollywood icon. I particularly love this image of her – the sweet cross stitched blouse, the open smile, all that luscious, curly hair. What a stunner. The story goes that she was so appalled and incredulous when, in her first meeting with a big time Hollywood producer, he declared that she would be given a Hollywood makeover complete with shaved eyebrows and a strict diet. She held her ground and became famous for her natural beauty as well as for being professional and unpretentious. 

Anita Eckberg

Unlike Ingrid, Anita had not had a career in movies within Sweden before she moved to America. She was often criticised by the Swedish press for "abandoning" Sweden and taking on an American accent. I think her bombshell beauty and sex symbol status (thanks especially to that famous scene in the Trevi Fountain in La Dolce Vita!) was not respected in her home country. Her voluptuous, in-your-face beauty and coquettishness was more accepted in her adopted home of Italy. But she was Swedish and, sex symbol or not, still had the fresh-faced, outdoorsy, glowing loveliness that I associate with that era of Scandinavian beauties. Gorgeous. 

Sofia Helin

I've been addicted all those Scandinavian crime and political dramas that have filled our televisions over the last few years - The Killing, Borgen, Wallander, The Eagle... But my absolute favourite is The Bridge starring the enigmatic and strangely compelling Sofia Helin, who is a much admired and well established actress in Sweden. With her wild hair, leather pants, and strange ways, the character she plays is a far cry from the real Sofia. But there is a mesmerizing quality in Sofia - her scarred face is all the more beautiful for its imperfection. In the US it would have been "fixed" and erased. We barely see her smile in character as Saga Noren and so when we do it's like a verirtable burst of sunshine and for a moment she has the look of a classic Scandinavian blonde babe. But I like her dark side....

Noomi Rapace

Noomi is another unusual beauty who we are used to seeing play dark, tortured characters - most famously in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series. She is a real chameleon, sometimes unrecognisable from film to film. Except for those extraordinary cheekbones! 

And last, but by no means ever least....

Greta Garbo

The ultimate enigma. Elusive, moody, mysterious, deeply charismatic, Garbo was an icon in her own time and the myth only continues to deepen. Her impact on the screen was palpable as was her impact on fashion, hairstyles, make up and attitude. A true one of a kind. 

Greta Garbo