Ask any style-conscious mom-to-be to reveal her favorite maternity wear designer. You'll likely hear Liz Lange's name. From Brown University to Vogue, from her own boutiques to the Liz Lange Maternity line for Target , this fashion revolutionary and mom of two has blazed an incomparable entrepreneurial trail.
Thanks to her stylish vision and skillful designs, the “bulges” of pregnancies past, once perceived as inconveniences to be hidden, have now become the “blossoms” of pregnancies present-day, to be beautifully accentuated in modern maternity wear. Listen in as we chat with celebrity-loved designer, author, cancer survivor, philanthropist and mom, Liz Lange.
Mommy Tracked: Since we’re a mom-focused site, could I start by asking you to share a little bit about your children?
Liz Lange: My son Gus is 10 years old and my daughter Alice is 8. They are pretty typical kids. Gus loves baseball, football and guitar while Alice is all about animals (stuffed and real), drawing, and babies!
As a small girl, I adored Lucy Ricardo’s style . . . until she became pregnant with Little Ricky, that is . . . then, things seemed to go horribly, horribly awry. Could you describe a bit about what you feel were the biggest shortcomings of maternity wear of the past?
Well, we have certainly come a long way since the days when Lucy and Ricky had to sleep in separate beds and the words "pregnancy" couldn't be said on TV! And today's maternity clothing reflects that change in attitude! When I started my line 11 years ago (!!), I thought that the clothing that women wear when they are pregnant should reflect the sexy celebratory nature of pregnancy. I believed — and still do — that they should be fitted and fashionable and no different than non-maternity clothing. Believe it or not, this was a very new concept back then. All the maternity clothing back then was very oversized and tent-like. The fabrics were cheap and the designs were all babyish, almost as if the pregnant woman was turning into a baby, rather than expecting one!
What was the actual catalyst that propelled you to become a “revolutionary” in modern maternity design?
The idea for Liz Lange Maternity  came before I myself had ever actually been pregnant. It was definitely on my mind as I was newly married and many of my friends were beginning to have children. I noticed that they were all always complaining that they couldn't find anything to wear and that many of them were wearing non-maternity clothing and that when they squeezed themselves into something that wasn't actually maternity that they looked better and slimmer! I had this “a-ha” moment that maternity clothing needed to be stretchy and smaller and that it needed to look exactly like regular fashion.
What was your favorite item to wear when you were expecting and why?
I lived in little dresses when I was pregnant and I still do. I was pregnant over the summer with both pregnancies and dresses were so comfortable. I find them the easiest way to dress in general as when you throw a dress on it will take you anywhere!
When did you realize that you had indeed become an icon in the world of fashion?
That is very nice; I don't consider myself an icon. I had many "pinch me" moments. The first was when Nike called (before I even had a proper shop) and said that they wanted to partner with me on a line of maternity athletic apparel, which we did together called Liz Lange for Nike. I was very excited when we were the first maternity brand ever to do a fashion show at Bryant Park Tents during NY Fashion Week. And I was particularly thrilled when Target asked us to be their exclusive design partner for their maternity clothing!
Could you share the best compliment you have received on your designs and from whom?
The best compliments I receive come from women who write me the most touching notes, telling me that something I designed made them feel beautiful on a day when they were feeling down. I have also been lucky to get a lot of nice press over the years but I will never forget when Vogue wrote about me in my first few months of business in very early 1998 and compared my designs to Michael Kors. He is a fashion hero of mine.
Who in the public eye do you feel has uncanny pregnancy/mom-style?
I loved the way that Sarah Jessica Parker looked when she was pregnant. She wore beautiful fit and flare Narciso Rodriguez dresses and I thought it was a very beautiful time for her.
You are so integrally involved with many charitable organizations. Could you share a bit about which causes are particularly important to you and why?
I am a cervical cancer survivor and spreading the word about cervical cancer and the importance of regular screenings is a top priority of mine. Cervical cancer  is the number one killer of women in developing countries and 30 women a day are diagnosed with it in the United States. I am also a board member of Fertile Hope  which educates cancer patients about what they can do to preserve their fertility post-cancer. Finally, I am a former board member of my friend, Jessica Seinfeld's, charity Baby Buggy , which redistributes gently used baby products to under-served families.
Which celebrity parents do you particularly admire, and why?
I love Kelly Ripa (whom I dressed and worked closely with for 3 pregnancies!) and I admire her as a mom and as a dynamic successful woman and role model for other women.
Your collaboration with Target seems a match made in heaven. Could you tell us a bit about how that transpired?
I have been so lucky to have Target as my partner. We got together after 9/11 when I started to feel that just having a high end maternity line was leaving out so many women who wanted the Liz Lange look during their pregnancies. I approached Target about doing a special less expensive line exclusively for them. They loved it and we rolled out Liz Lange for Target to all of their stores and Target.com in 2002. It was so successful that after a few years we took over their entire maternity department.
How do you find balance between your professional life and your personal life? What do you do to relax? Do you ever find yourself a victim of “mommy guilt?”
I think we all feel guilty and certainly I feel like I am always juggling and never balancing (balancing sounds so elegant and serene!) But I am lucky, I have great help at the office and at home and since I am in charge of my own schedule (usually!), I am able to drop my children off at school every day and pick them up on most days.
What is your proudest professional moment? Proudest Mommy moment?
I am proud of the fabulous celebrities and non-celebrities we have dressed, our past partnership with Nike, our current partnership with Target, and for having something to do with the "new look" of maternity fashion in general. I am so proud of my children. I can't believe how big they are getting!
What’s next on your plate?
I am so busy right now, working on a new book, all about how to look fabulous after the baby. We have just re-launched our high end maternity line (we took 2 seasons off) and we are launching convertible baby bags and layette clothing this summer.
Maternity clothing designer Liz Lange was interviewed by Cheryl Lage: The author of Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice from Pregnancy through the First Year , Cheryl Lage is a freelance writer/editor and a full-time mom. Her twin-centric perspectives have appeared in a wide array of print, web and broadcast media including: MSN.com, TWINS, Pregnancy, AmericanBaby.com, Parents.com, ePregnancy.com, Martha Stewart Living Radio, iVillage.com, People’s Celebrity Baby Blog, Richmond Parents Monthly, and her own web support site, Twinsights.com .
Currently, Cheryl Lage lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia, where she is an elementary school room mother — times two! Learn more about Cheryl by visiting her blog, Twinfatuation .
Design fans take note: if you enjoyed our interview with fashion designer Liz Lange, click on over to our chat with Extreme Makeover: Home Edition interior designer Tracy Hutson !