At home with Elise Pioch Her Daughter Loulou
Photography: Julie Adams Hair: Paloma Rose Garcia at Oscar Oscar Salons Paddington Make-up: Abigail Sheridan Words: Georgie Abay
Being French, everything Elise Pioch does is chic, the way she speaks, dresses, moves. Of course, it also helps that she has a background in fashion buying, which would explain the eye-popping fluro orange Marni Edition skirt shes wearing. Pioch left her position as fashion buyer for Belinda and The Corner Shop to launch a collection of divinely scented candles, Maison Balzac, which are now stocked around the world. Back in April, she gave birth to a baby girl, Loulou Chappell.
Pioch and her husband Pablo Chappell (creator of Chappelli Cycles) divide their time between a cool warehouse space in Sydney and their country home, an 1880s converted church situated on the Hawkesbury River, which theyve transformed over the years into a magical home (it's complete with pet chickens).
Running her own business meant Pioch wasn't able to take maternity leave. "I was back on email 12 hours after giving birth. I work every day in between feed and sleeps. The fact that both Pablo and I work from home means we share looking after Loulou all day and that we don't have to spend time apart from her. This is wonderful. It is truly chaotic, but somehow it gets done. I guess one has to surrender to the new rhythm and go with the flow."
Elise's little list of loves:
Freshly picked orange salad with sliced almond and homemade cinnamon.
Choosing cute outfits for Loulou every day.
Working on new products for Maison Balzac, including a new candle for christmas.
Reading French Elle every Friday on my iPad.
I am obsessed with the Ikou recovery face mask with ginseng and marine collagen.
Long morning walks with Pablo and Loulou.
The latest Daft Punk album.
I have not purchased many toys for Loulou yet...
There is this French website that I buy presents for my niece and nephew called Bonton.
The best part of being a mum is feeling that immense love for my baby and passing on the best of what I have learnt in life...
I never was looking forward to becoming a mum, so the fact I am loving it so much is a big surprise (and relief). Motherhood has taught me patience and immense respect for all the mothers of this world.
I already know that I will read all the classic French tales to Loulou...
Grimm’s fairytales and Jean de La Fontaine, who was the most famous French fabulist. I’ll also read her 1001 Arabian nights.
As this is our first child, a boy or a girl didn't matter...
I am secretly very happy to have had a baby girl first. We named her Loulou, when I was four months pregnant. It helped us to bond with this little human being in the womb. I have always admired Loulou de la Falaise and thought it would be a very chic influence on our daughter.
I had a natural water birth...
I labored for 11 hours in a Jacuzzi bath and then Loulou came out after 30 minutes of intense pushing. It was not a walk in the park, but it is the thing I am the most proud of in my life. Five seconds after giving birth, I got out of the bath, changed into my bassike outfit, had dinner and felt normal again. How magical is that!
The last months of pregnancy seem to get you ready for sleep deprivation...
When the baby arrives it is not a big shock, but it’s still quite challenging. I feel that being tired is part of the deal and pretty early on I accepted the fact that I didn’t need to be awake/efficient for anything other than my baby. What has saved me is the fact that my husband takes Loulou for a two to three hour walk at 6.30am everyday, so I can stay in bed and sleep without interruption.
The hardest part of being a mother is knowing that one day, Loulou will not need me as much as she does today.
Luckily, I’ve discovered an inner strength that I didn’t know I had. I found out about it the day I gave birth and it has been with me ever since.
I read Baby on Board by Dr Howard Chilton...
This book summarises everything you need to know in the first six months of your baby’s life.
My husband Pablo and I try to go to restaurants with Loulou and dress up for it...
We walk together every day and we laugh about the little daily baby dramas.
I think from three months old babies are happy to follow a routine...
Before that our adult world should revolve around their needs, even if they are chaotic and exhausting. We have observed Loulou a lot and discovered her own language and preferences to fall asleep. Loulou instantly stops crying and starts sleeping when we play ‘Get Lucky’ from Daft Punk loudly; and when we rock her on our arms or we go for long walks with her in the Baby Bjorn. (www.babybjorn.com.au)
Balance doesn't mean perfection...
It just means that you have found a rhythm that suits you and your baby.
Nice baby clothes are so tricky to find...
In Sydney, I like Baby Gap and Country Road. My Mum lives in France, so she sends us a lot of Petit Bateau, Jacadi and Monoprix clothes, which I adore. One of the most beautiful gifts was from my dear friend Robyn Catinella, she gave Loulou a gorgeous french lace baby dress by Colette Dinnigan. Also, this pink vest was hand knitted by my sister-in-law Sophie, in the South of France.
My parents always told me: ‘To spoil children is lying to them because life doesn't spoil adults’...
I want Loulou to be a fair, balanced and happy person so we will behave accordingly.