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Sonia Rykiel Names Geraldo da Conceicao

The senior designer, who has worked at Miu Miu, Yves Saint Laurent and Louis Vuitton, will be the new artistic director.

PARIS — Sonia Rykiel has tapped Geraldo da Conceicao, a senior designer who has worked at Miu Miu and Yves Saint Laurent, as its new artistic director, WWD has learned.

This story first appeared in the September 21, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

A Canadian national born in Macau, da Conceicao is expected to join the French fashion house next month and show his first collection on the runway in February for the fall season.

Laying the groundwork for the change in creative leadership, Rykiel has opted to cancel its show, which had been scheduled for Sept. 28 during Paris Fashion Week, and will instead present the spring collection to buyers and press in its Paris showrooms.

Da Conceicao is currently a design director at Louis Vuitton in women’s ready-to-wear. He held a similar post at Miu Miu from 2006 to 2011. Before that, he held a variety of senior design positions at Yves Saint Laurent, starting in 1998 and working under Alber Elbaz, Tom Ford and later Stefano Pilati. He also worked as a senior designer at Martine Sitbon early in his career.

The design appointment follows a change in ownership and management of Rykiel, known for its striped knitwear and Left Bank insouciance.

In February, Fung Brands Ltd. acquired 80 percent of the Rykiel business, leaving the founding family with a 20 percent stake. Subsequently, Rykiel named Eric Langon from Lancel as chief executive officer, charging him with developing the brand internationally, particularly in North America and Asia.

“We are opening a new chapter for the company,” Jean-Marc Loubier, chairman at Rykiel and president of Fung Brands, said in an interview. “We are sure [da Conceicao] will be able to take the Rykiel woman and make her international.”

Loubier has reorganized management to ready the company for its global push, appointing Sophie Templier, formerly at Chloé, as product and merchandising director, and naming a new commercial director, Eric Rousseau, who joins Rykiel from Jean Paul Gaultier. Rousseau previously worked under Loubier when he was ceo at Celine.

Last year, Sonia Rykiel posted sales of about 90 million euros, or $125.5 million at average exchange rates. Loubier noted that roughly half the business is done outside of France, a ratio the company hopes to bump up with a revamped first line and the accessories category.

April Crichton, who was named creative director last September, is expected to exit the fashion house. A graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, Crichton worked alongside founder Sonia Rykiel and helped to develop the contemporary Sonia by Sonia Rykiel line.

Fung Brands Ltd. is a subsidiary of Fung Capital Ltd., the investment arm of the families of Hong Kong-based Victor Fung and William Fung, who separately control the Li & Fung Group.

Fung Brands also holds majority stakes in French shoe brand Robert Clergerie and Belgian leather goods concern Delvaux.