Sonia Rykiel was accustomed to firsts. She was the first designer to transform knitwear into a cool, luxury French staple, the first to offer her collections via mail order (equivalent to being the first to offer her collection for purchase online, back in the day) and now, posthumously, the first fashion designer to have an allée named after her in Paris.
Although Rykiel passed away two years ago, 2018 serves as the 50th anniversary of her label, and the brand has been riding a wave of celebrations during the year. For Spring/Summer 2019, Rykiel’s spiritual successor and Creative Director, Julie de Libran, folded in the dedication of Paris’s new Allée Sonia Rykiel with a collection that celebrated the cast of characters one might find while wandering the street’s organic market on a lazy Sunday.
Rooted in the reality of a bustling day filled with strollers, barking dogs, kids on skateboards, and merchant chatter, Sonia Rykiel’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection was relaxed, but chic. De Libran’s women may have been out for a sunny stroller, but they were still dressed to impress. They wore slouchy striped knits that sloped off the shoulder, and paired them with knotted-and-fringed skirts. They wore crisp shirtdresses that split open to reveal netted panels beneath, roomy denim jackets with culottes, mesh dresses intersected by wide opaque stripes, and relaxed suits cut open at the elbow. They weren’t exactly roll-out-of-bed clothes; in fact, some of them had some real thought put into them — but their utilitarian accents did make them feel like they belonged on a woman on an outdoor stroll.
Sonia Rykiel was accustomed to firsts.
With rails set up so that the public could also take part in the proceedings, an alternative crowd of appreciating eyes took in the Sonia Rykiel show, and felt the magic of her legacy. The editors and VIPs who sat front row know the feeling all too well; it was nice to see others enjoy the fruits of de Libran’s faithful, but spirited, take on her predecessor’s metier.