MADRID — During Madrid’s mad artistic upheaval of the Eighties, Sybilla, the brand and the impish designer behind it, were one and the same — iconic and quirky, long before the word became a part of the fashion lexicon.
Today, she is a lot less visible, while the brand is picking up steam. Sybilla’s March 4 runway show at Paris’ Carrousel du Louvre kicks off an international expansion plan that includes store openings in Barcelona and Valencia, Spain, by yearend; additional retail locations are slated for Paris and Milan and, eventually, New York, according to Carlos Duarte Pereira de Moura (known as Carlos Duarte), fashion managing director of Proesa. The Madrid company owns Sybilla and Jocomomola, a junior spin-off line.
The Paris show is the first by Sybilla’s recently appointed creative director, Arnaud Maillard.
“Paris is the right runway to let the fashion world know that Sybilla and her personality still exist. We don’t want to lose that spirit, but we’re no longer in the Eighties,” Duarte said.
“We’re continuing Sybilla’s signature concept, particularly the shapes and colors in a day-to-night range. About 80 percent of the collection is what Sybilla has always stood for,” he added, referring to her unexpected volume plays, ultrarefined silhouettes and a subdued color palette based on dark wine, violet and hunter green. “And there is always a little black. For next season, we’re introducing chocolate brown. Adding a new color is a way to update the line; we have to be edgy while maintaining our identity.”
The brand has been off the runway since 1992, “but I don’t like the word ‘comeback’ because Sybilla never left,” he said emphatically.
For instance, over her Madrid flagship, which is tucked away on a cul-de-sac in the trendy Salamanca shopping area, she launched Sybilla Casa in 2001 featuring a range of home products based on her whimsical designs, such as patterned tiles with subtle color mixes from the Thirties, candles, bed linens and Mallorcan glassware. At one time, the home line sold to Paris’ Colette and Jeffrey in New York.
Downstairs is the brand’s ready-to-wear, a snappy grouping of novelty knits, and Sybilla Noche, her seven-year-old evening collection. In an adjoining locale, Jocomomola, her second label, rolled out in 1993, featuring ingenue silhouettes, lots of hot colors and geometric prints. (Now Jocomomola sells to 180 Spanish doors, and France, Italy and the Benelux countries are also key markets, Duarte confirmed.)
Last summer, both brands introduced a swimwear line distributed through wholesale accounts in Spain, the Madrid flagship and the newest Jocomomola store, opened last August in Barcelona’s hip-hop Borne neighborhood.
In addition, Sybilla’s recent launches include a jewelry collection last October made up of necklaces, pendants and rings in gold, amber and ebony, and a children’s line for winter 2008 licensed to Montoto in northern Spain. Montoto will also produce the label’s signature knitwear.
Japan remains Sybilla’s top market; there the brand is owned and distributed by textile producer and leading local retailer, Itokin. Duarte declined to reveal current or projected sales figures.
Sybilla, 43, is president of Proesa and lives on the Balearic island of Mallorca with her two children. She will not attend the Paris show.