PARIS — Sonia Rykiel, France’s queen of knitwear, is spinning a new yarn.
Two flagship boutiques — on London’s Brook Street and in Miami’s Coral Gables — are slated to open this fall. The first Sonia boutique, dedicated to the diffusion label Sonia, bowed here in August on the Rue des Saint Peres. And the 35-year-old house just christened a saucy concept shop, Rykiel Woman, at 4 Rue de Grenelle.
Overseen by Nathalie Rykiel, creative director and Sonia’s daughter, the Rykiel Woman store introduces a new luxury label and juxtaposes it with unexpected accessories: sex toys.
“Our heritage lies in being provocative, that’s why we have [sex toys],” said Nathalie Rykiel. “It’s not meant to be rude. Sex is in the air.”
And so are signs of a Rykiel revival. French Elle and Jalouse put the brand on their September covers. In the current Gap campaign, Marianne Faithfull can be seen clutching a Rykiel bag. And sales at the privately owned firm grew 8 percent last year to about $176 million.
“My mother used to be perceived as very risqué,” said Nathalie Rykiel. “The style now appeals to a younger generation, and fashion seems to be going in our [direction].”
Sales in the U.S. have ebbed over the last two years, as several retail accounts were discontinued. But house president Simon Burstein, who is also Nathalie’s husband, said the Miami store and distribution of the Sonia line should stem the decline and boost the image.
For her part, Nathalie said she’s angling to recapture the insouciance and vibrancy of her mother’s early years by reaching out to a younger audience.
Rykiel Woman is a first step in that direction. The store carries cashmere sweaters, velour jogging suits, lingerie and fur coats that are all exclusive to the location.
“It’s the opposite of all of the ubiquitous luxury shopping women find so easily elsewhere in the world,” she said.