Julie de Libran’s new capsule knitwear collection for Sonia Rykiel launches today with 13 pieces in wool, cotton and mohair mixes. The limited edition Rykiel Forever range is a tribute to Mme Rykiel, who died last summer; all the designs are based on archive pieces and feature the bright stripes, slogans, ribbing and quirky details – such as trompe l’oeil ties – that Rykiel made her own, but reproportioned and recoloured for today by de Libran.
“She was an extraordinary woman who was a powerful champion of women’s rights throughout her five-decade career, and whose influence reached far beyond fashion,” says de Libran. “She challenged the status quo, encouraging women to embrace freedom of spirit, intellect and sensuality, always with a light touch and humour, and it’s so relevant today.”
Taking on the mantle of a designer with a very distinct handwriting is a hard task – and making a brand relevant for a new generation is not a simple job either. De Libran took over at Sonia Rykiel, renowned for its knitwear and a particular kind of intellectual-yet-flirtatious Parisian chic, in May 2014 and has successfully modernised it, bringing in elements of deconstruction and casual ease from her own rather cool aesthetic, but remaining true to the label’s Left Bank roots, as the Rykiel Forever collection (from £160) shows.
The range features multipurpose pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways – sleeves become scarves, sweaters turn into tunics or capes, and stripes and solids reverse. Oversized sweatshirts and dresses bear the slogans “175 Saint Germain” and “Amour Toujours”, reflecting the address of Rykiel’s original flagship store and her favourite theme, while the fresh colours – ivory, red, blue, moss green, camel and black – tone with most wardrobes. The buttons, meanwhile, feature Rykiel’s thumbprint, which was discovered by de Libran in the archives of the Italian knitwear factory that the brand has worked with for nearly 30 years.
The collection is exclusively at Style.com until March 22; it will then be available from Sonia Rykiel’s London flagship and website.