Sonia Rykiel has never been about brooding chic or pensive style. The woman and the house have always stood for joyous fashion, clothes that make you smile, as the models always did under Rykiel’s direction. The fall collection also was a celebration and for good reason: 2018 marks Sonia Rykiel’s 50th anniversary. In fact, she opened her first store on Boulevard Saint-Germain just before the summer of ’68 at the same time the student riots rocked Paris, forcing her to close the shop temporarily.
Julie de Libran kept all this in mind when approaching this season. It left her with a lot to pack into a single collection and she did so with savvy, avoiding any literal period protest gear or lingering on the past. Instead, she cherry-picked quintessential elements of Rykiel and swirled them with her own formative past, specifically Eighties New Wave and pop music, which fueled de Libran’s first sense of fashion as a personal expression. “We’re celebrating 50 years this year and ’68 liberated women and gave them a voice,” de Libran said. “I wanted to show that I’m one of those women. It’s about creativity through the clothes.”
She made the show the celebration, styling the models with wild manes of Rykiel’s signature frizz with a Flock of Seagulls flip, sending some of them out arm-in-arm in coordinated outfits, and encouraging all to flaunt their personalities and molar-to-molar grins. The clothes, meanwhile, reflected a woman’s diversity of moods: the sober edge of a black perfecto trench; the flamboyance of Mongolian fur hats, coats and boots; the cozy zeal of layered knit plaids; flirty clingy striped knits, and sexy peasant dresses trimmed in zippers. It was all done with a youthful, relatively subtle New Wave inflection, as well as major luxury know-now — fabrics, knit technology and even the zipper constructions were impeccable — that was a bit overshadowed by some of the onstage exuberance. Then again, it was a party, one that ended with a live performance by Eighties girl group phenom Bananarama and explosions of silver streamer confetti.