“Let’s have a cigarette,” wrote Lola Rykiel on a wall in The Webster’s new SoHo location in Manhattan. Don’t worry — she wasn’t defacing the store; rather, she was adding to an interactive installation by artist Jaro Varga.
Depicting a library full of title-less books, the black-and-white installation invited guests to write and draw on it with color markers. “Where’s my husband?” read one newly added title of a potential romantic drama. Nearby, someone had drawn a caricature of Rykiel’s late grandmother, Sonia, who was the cause for celebration on Tuesday evening.
The cocktail hour drew Sofia Coppola, Liya Kebede, Rebecca Hall, Theodora Richards, Janice Alida Joseph, Phoebe Collings, Kelly Rutherford and Alexandra Golovanoff. The installation, which first appeared at the Sonia Rykiel flagship in Paris, is just one of the many initiatives the brand will roll out over the course of the year to fete its 50th anniversary, and was inspired by a book, “Dictionnaire déglingué,” published by Sonia in 2002.
“The universe of Sonia Rykiel is so big and so rich, there’s a lot of things that we can explore,” Lola said. She added that her grandmother opened her first store in May 1968, a period of unrest in France, as students were protesting against universities. “There was this big riot in Paris, all the students were saying, ‘It’s forbidden to forbid,’ that’s what they were writing on the walls. It’s at that time that my grandmother opened her first store and she was completely part of that movement.”
“Clothes are a way of expression and sometimes to have something, a word, that’s funny or gives a message on a sweater or a half-sweater, this is what the collection is about,” said Julie de Libran, the brand’s artistic director. “Because of the literature, the books, we had this artist create this wall for us for everyone to be able to be part of it and leave a mark, write the book that they would always love to write or a poem or a drawing, anything, any type of expression.”
She hadn’t yet written anything on the wall — though she did in Paris — and admired some of the other drawings before adding, “It’s funny and it’s a good time and we need a bit of that.”