Mommy Blog or a Glossy Fashion Magazine?

June 13th, 2013

Jamie Mccarthy/Getty Images North America

The bloggers Julia Restoin Roitfeld, left, and Kelly Stuart, in jeans, and Violet Gaynor; Images showing Julia Restoin Roitfeld, bottom right, and her mother, Carine Roitfeld, top right, both pregnant and on the beach, appear on the former’s blog, Romy & the Bunnies.

The first wave of mommy blogs (pre-Facebook) were simple family updates, like year-round Christmas letters. The second wave were confessional soap boxes for mothers with dirty laundry to air (like dooce.com), attracting devoted readerships, advertising dollars and eventually public mimicry.

The third, it seems, are jaw-droppingly art-directed, sort of like a glossy fashion magazine on the newsstand.

Indeed, Romy & the Bunnies, started in March by Julia Restoin Roitfeld, the daughter of the former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld and a new mother herself (to 1-year-old Romy), is perhaps the most lavish of the lot. Though personal photos of her mother red-lipped and pregnant in Paris circa 1980 and of Ms. Restoin Roitfeld herself channeling Helmut Newton at eight months pregnant and counting do tell their own revealing story, Ms. Restoin Roitfeld’s primary aim is to divine style and beauty inspiration for disciples trying to dress a bump or a post-pregnancy body in a fashionable way.

“I don’t give any motherhood advice or anything, it’s purely aesthetic,” said Ms. Restoin Roitfeld, 32, adding that she was urged by her mother to pursue the blog when they were vacationing together in August.

“The light-bulb moment came after I had the baby,” she said. “When you think your body is going to get back right on track, which it doesn’t. It takes nine months to stretch and nine months to get back into shape. So it’s more like how to adapt to this little disappointment and how to still feel good. For example, we had the best swimsuit to hide the belly for the few months after you have a baby. That’s more of what I want to share.”

It may not be an ideal formula for all modern mothers (what is?), but Ms. Restoin Roitfeld and others have gathered a following among those in the creative fields — some of whom, perhaps, have wiped a nose or two on the sleeve of their T by Alexander Wang crew necks. Sites like Unruly Things, A Little Muse and Rip + Tan are virtual spaces embracing motherhood while honing in on prechild predilections for designer denim or art-house photography. If four-inch heels have to be surrendered for practicality, they seem to telegraph, there are always on-trend high-top sneakers.

Jennifer Hagler, 28, the minimalist eye behind A Merry Mishap, wrote in an e-mail that she doesn’t mind “being considered a mommy blog,” though she rarely runs on at the keyboard about the subject. Ms. Hagler is a jewelry designer who lives in Boise, Idaho, with her 3-year-old son, Israel, and her husband, Jeremiah, 31, a graphic designer. She turned to her site as a way to explore her swelling enthusiasm for Scandinavian design after having her son. “ I was home nursing, doing laundry,” she said. “There was still a lot in me to share outside of motherhood.”

Posts about family life are peppered throughout the blog (“I do share more about personal things on my Instagram, which is almost like a mini, fast-food version of blogging,” Ms. Hagler said). But the main attractions are the pristinely lighted photographs she snaps in her home with a Canon EOS 7D — of a spare, undone bed; stacked books wrapped in Ferm Living wallpaper; or travel necessities like black leather Jeffrey Campbell boots. Think escapism in the form of white space — a lure, perhaps, for mothers who once agonized over lighting fixtures but are now tripping over plastic Jumperoos.

“I’m glad it comes across as simple,” Ms. Hagler said. “Because that’s something very important to me personally.”

Trina McNeilly, 35, a mother of four who lives in Rockford, Ill., incorporates candid photos of her children more freely on La La Lovely, a Pinterest-friendly site featuring toddler-friendly décor and roundups of yoga-pants alternatives, like a pleated Top Shop skirt. (Jessica Alba, herself a self-appointed arbiter of stylish motherhood, recently linked to the site on her Facebook page, and the furniture company the Land of Nod shot the McNeilly brood in their home for its February catalog.)

“Domino and Cookie were probably the two magazines that inspired me the most,” Ms. McNeilly said, naming two defunct Condé Nast titles. “It’s nice just to get a quick hit of pretty, and I want to quickly find things that are relatable and cool.”

Another blog, The Glow, is overtly gunning for power moms wielding Céline tote bags at the office (or in some cases on the runways). “We had a moment when we realized we’re surrounded by these stylish women in our industry who are doing it all or seem to be,” said Violet Gaynor, a senior fashion editor at InStyle.com, who started the site in 2011 with Kelly Stuart, a photo director at Hearst Digital Media, before either of them had children. “They were sort of examples to us because we had really fulfilling careers and great relationships, but we couldn’t really figure out how to fit in motherhood.”

Ms. Gaynor, 33, who is due in July with her first child, interviews enviably rakish mothers like Rebecca Minkoff, the fashion designer, and Jemima Kirke, a star of “Girls,” prodding them for tips for which designer clothes might give enough throughout pregnancy or how to get one’s figure back after birth. Quotations run alongside Ms. Stuart’s in-the-moment snapshots of mothers and offspring taken in their artfully undone homes. These tableaux have proved so compelling that Abrams plans to publish an all-new collection of images and interviews in coffee-table book form in spring 2014.

And yet even the most beautifully art-directed of mothers can’t escape the most hackneyed of subjects forever hovering over the stroller set.

“The issue of balance is such a huge element for the site,” Ms. Gaynor said. “ It’s not about having it all, but having as much as you can all at once.”

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