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By Abby Sandel, Appellation Mountain

Last month, two high profile birth announcements both featured Bodhi within days.  Not Mason, not Noah.  Bodhi.  Proof that choosing a different name is no guarantee that it will actually be different.

But here’s a strategy that might work – pick a name that qualifies as a twist on a classic.  It works for Swedish royals, Olympic gold medalists, and Hollywood types, too.

Need proof?  Try the Zato Novo baby name visualizerElizabeth consistently turns the map various shades of blue, showing a long and steady history of use.  But try Elsa or Bess or Elizaveta, and suddenly, she’s far more rare.

All too often, the names that strike us as outlandish are on their way to the top of the popularity charts.  Remember when Top 100 picks like Harper and Trinity were surprising? Now names like Haven, Skyla, and Aspen are on the rise, slowly transitioning from “what an unusual name” to “oh, my cousin/co-worker/neighbor’s sister named her baby that.”

Twists on classics elicit a very different response.  They usually can’t be dismissed as trendy or fleeting.  Of course, some – like Nora, Eliza, or Kaitlyn – can become very popular.  But many of them occupy a middle ground – pleasing names that show their history, while still standing out on the playground.

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Is It True? Sophia, Jacob New #1s!

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Nameberry exclusive!  Sophia and Jacob are the new Number 1 names, according to the headline of a press release posted briefly on the Social Security website and just as quickly taken down.  A sharp-eyed Berry alerted us to the possible leak.  The Most Popular Names 2011 announcement was supposed to have been made today, but was postponed until Monday morning on The Today Show.  But Nameberry may have just scooped NBC, thanks to our wonderful Berries! xxxx

And now on to our regularly scheduled program.  This year, Nameberry says Happy Mother’s Day by saluting the best baby-naming celebs who have become moms since last Mother’s Day–some for the first time, some not.  We’re staying away from the more extreme choices (so sorry, Mariah and Beyonce and Jessica), in favor of those that have shown an elegant sense of style, a degree of creativity–and in a few cases some ingenuity by unearthing some great buried treasures.

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This week, Appellation Mountain‘s Abby Sandel checks the labels on designer kids’ clothes and finds some stylish, sassy name options.

Every year a few kids are named after high-end designers, like Armani and Chanel.  Despite their luxury brand status, the names tend to feel a little forced.  Chances are that a kid destined to graduate from a Dior couture layette to Gucci toddler gear would never wear a name so obvious.

But your kid’s closet or the racks at the local baby boutique could serve as inspiration for a baby name.  Designers aplenty have launched pint-sized versions of their runway-worthy duds.  Equally intriguing are the names of the many labels launched to help us dress our kids in the latest fashions.

Ever since Elisabeth started writing her style column, I’ve been thinking: yes, the stuff is great.  But aren’t those names equally worthy of attention?

GIRLS

AGATHA

ANAIS

ELIANE

FLORENCE

IRIS Iris + Ivy is another irresistible pair that could work as well for siblings as it does for a clothing line

IVY

HANNAHanna Anderson has been bringing Scandinavian style to the states for years.

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