Work; Louder than words

By Hannah Tan


In a myriad of ways, Sonia Rykiel was an icon for essentially Parisian rebelliousness. Her first boutique opened in the heart of literary Saint-Germain-des-Prés in May 1968; during an uneasy time filled with slogans and ideals. In the midst of all the chaos, Sonia Rykiel established herself as a subversive fashion icon; her quirky knitwear and denim pieces becoming sartorial thoroughfare to style for those in-the-know; and her wearable slogans rising above the noise of the fashion industry.

Half a century later and the Maison of Sonia Rykiel lives on, even after its enigmatic founder’s’ tragic passing in 2016. With artistic director Julie de Libran at the helm, Sonia Rykiel brings its heritage into the future. Aptly entitled Manifesto – the maison’s 50th anniversary celebration explores the late designer’s exuberant body of work and the individualistic spirit that has carried the brand throughout the years.

A manifesto is described as a public statement that puts forward a program of aesthetic action. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Maison goes back to its roots and creates a manifesto featuring the literary lexicon of Madame Rykiel. Since the beginning, words and literature have always been integral to the heart of Sonia Rykiel. Her St.Germain boutique was often filled with books, and her fashion served as a canvas for her own poetic definitions – often woven into the fabric of her clothes. In 2018, her manifesto is manifested in a lighthearted capsule collection that plays on the S and R monogram – cleverly turning the recent logo frenzy on its head in a way that is both lively and effortless. The capsule collection features washed patched denim jackets, shorts, and trousers filled with witty fashion alliterations from “So cleveR” to “paRiS” to “So Rock” — all of which are decidedly un-academic. The red, navy, and black colour palette and striped patterns reflect the brand’s house codes and also breathe an effortless attitude; while the surreal trompe l’oeil motif found on knitted shirts and jumpers is unashamedly Rykiel.

Finally, Sonia Rykiel’s Saint Germain flagship also undergoes a literary transformation. Created by artist Jaro Varga, 175 Saint Germain is transformed into a dishevelled library filled from floor to ceiling with blank books — inviting visitors to inscribe their own words into the books’ empty spines. The installation will travel to New York, London, Tokyo, and Seoul – recording people’s stories from all over the world and adding them to Rykiel’s collective manifesto. This is story-telling by Madame Rykiel, drawing on the house’s history and people’s own individual expressions to create a vision for the future. 


To find out more about Sonia Rykiel, click here.

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