By  on February 25, 2013

PARIS — For his debut collection at Sonia Rykiel, the brand’s new artistic director, Geraldo da Conceicao, looked no further than the founder of the house herself.

Asked what inspired him, the designer replied simply: “Mademoiselle Sonia Rykiel.”

The founding family now holds just a 20 percent stake in the French fashion label, having sold 80 percent to Fung Brands Ltd. last year. Nathalie Rykiel, the former president of the house, remains a consultant.

But the influence of the flame-haired Sonia Rykiel, who opened her first store in Saint-Germain-des-Prés amid the Paris student riots of 1968, remains as strong as ever.

The new owners are counting on Da Conceicao, formerly a senior designer who has worked at Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu and Yves Saint Laurent, to capture the essence of the woman that WWD dubbed “Queen of Knits.”

Da Conceicao describes the Rykiel woman as “an autonomous, intelligent and fully conscious sensual being who revels in her femininity — a synchronicity of intellect and heart.”

While remaining coy about the details of his collection, the designer said it would focus on “simple design, a certain conversation with the body, black and color, and, evidently, knit.”

Ahead of the March 1 show, Sonia Rykiel has launched a teaser campaign featuring archival videos on its Web site,, and on its Facebook page. A revamped version of the site is set to launch in June to coincide with the fall collection hitting stores.

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