Thursday afternoon at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship in New York held a rare sight: mothers and their toddlers having fun on the shoe floor of a department store.
This was the setting of an event celebrating Eva Chen’s new children’s book, “Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes,” and her kids’ clothing capsule with Janie and Jack. Young boys and girls tested out the wares on display — including headbands, sparkly sunglasses and a silver down puffer — while others read copies of the book. One kid wearing a pair of chestnut Uggs curled up in a leather armchair and got comfy with it, making himself right at home. Nannies chased after the children going rogue, swatting pairs of Prada and Gucci heels off of display tables, while the mothers took selfies with Chen.
Neil Patrick Harris was in attendance with his husband and children, along with Martha Hunt, Phillip Lim, Olivia Palermo and Gigi Hadid. Hadid swept Chen’s son, Tao, up in a huge hug, then said hello to Derek Desierto, the illustrator of “Juno Valentine.” Desierto is working on the drawings for Chen’s third kids’ book, which is slated to come out in 2019.
“Oh my god, I’m such a big fan!” Hadid cried out to Desierto, going in for another embrace.
According to Saks Fifth Avenue chief merchant Tracy Margolies, the team is “always in touch with Eva.”
“We really believe in children’s wear and everything that Eva’s done with Instagram,” Margolies added. “It just seemed like the right moment to partner on such a fun initiative.”
Chen said she was nervous. This is one of her most personal business ventures, out from behind the auspices of another business or company. Her children, she added, were particularly involved in the making of the book — and her experience raising them helped inform the narrative.
“[Ren] helped me narrow down the fonts,” Chen said. “She’ll ask for it, she calls it ‘the shoe book.’ When she falls asleep, and I see her in bed and the book is next to her because she fell asleep reading it, I get very emotional.
“I think starting at the ages of three and four, children internalize messages that they’re given,” she went on. “If you’re reading a book to them every night that says, ‘Have a voice, have an opinion, be yourself,’ that permeates their subconscious. I read a lot of books about how to get it done, and strong women, but it should start very young.”
More From the Eye: