Sonia Rykiel L’Atelier: street fighting women
The free-spirited phantoms of the 1960s wafted through a Paris courtyard Sunday morning. Velvet Underground on the sound-track, singing SundayMorning, as the house of Sonia Rykiel presented its debut L’Atelier collection inside the Cour du Mûrier of the Beaux-Arts college.
Beneath dappled light and before scores of marble classical nude statues, the cast strode about proudly, posing before a cut stone walk on which were inscribed the names of all the college’s alumni who died in French wars.
But the heart of this collection was the 60s, and the student revolt and sexual revolution that were first ignited in the nearby streets of Saint-Germain.
Though the house’s designer Julie de Libran was born well after 1968, the house’s founder lived the whole upheaval and many of the looks referenced her wardrobe. Founded that year, the house is reveling in its 50th anniversary.
From de Libran’s opening look, a wonderful hippie chic all black outfit worthy of Janis Joplin, with feathered trimmed skirt, courtier’s wide lapel jacket and big beret topped with red marabou feathers, to the shiny horizontal stripe knit dresses and flesh-colored gowns, practically all finished with huge silk bows.
Yet the mood was never really retro – best summed up by the patchwork, knit asymmetrical cocktail worn with great tricot boots that was hyper contemporary. Bold looks for gutsy women.
“Ever since we received this very generous invitation three months ago to show creativity during this couture week, it’s been quite emotional. What makes it right is to celebrate the inventory of Rykiel and our icons. To show the wardrobe, the knits; pea coats; amazing men’s jackets; because for a woman to have shoulders is important to me,” smiled de Libran.
Often referred to as the Year of Revolution, de Libran was clearly liberated by the experience, going on to make one of her best collections for the house. Did she consider this collection couture even if Rykiel is not officially a member of the French couture federation?
“The way it is made, the savoir faire of our atelier, I wanted to celebrate our incredible atelier, and this is dedicated to them, made by hand and thus yes, it is certainly couture,” said a breathless de Libran before posing with Elizabeth and Georgia Jagger, two progeny of the original Street Fighting Man of 1968 daddy Mick.
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