Work is underway on the site and may cause inaccessibility to some content, we are sorry for the inconvenience. We do our utmost to ensure that all items are available again as soon as possible. If problems occur, please contact our customer service.
Knit wit: Sonia Rykiel and H&M join forces
Right in the middle of it all — the marching geese, the cheerleaders, the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round, the Eiffel Tower, the “magical forest” shrouded in puffs of dry ice, the cigarette girls offering mini chocolate eclairs, the unicyclist/waiter pouring coffee from a pot balanced on top of his head (“
Est-ce que vous voulez un café?”), the fortune teller, the mountains of cakes and candies, the magnums of champagne and the parade floats helmed by a small army of gorgeous models wearing frizzy red wigs in homage to a fashion icon —
Sonia Rykiel, looking quite tiny and frail in the group of revellers, could be seen giving her daughter, Nathalie, president and artistic director of the company, a thumbs-up. It was an intimate mother/daughter moment in an otherwise over-the-bigtop fashion spectacle to launch two Sonia Rykiel collaborations with
H&M: lingerie (which became available in December) and a knitwear collection that is due out in stores on February 20. While the brand is beloved in Paris, it’s not as well known in North America. The partnership with H&M should change all that.
“The idea behind the show was to bring out the child in everyone, to see a sparkle in their eyes,” says Nathalie, who is still recovering from the previous night’s festivities. “I left the party around 2 a.m., and when I got home I found that my daughter had invited eight friends over, so please forgive my voice — it’s nearly gone,” she whispers. But Frenchwomen are indefatigable fashion warriors, so, despite her low energy, she looks seriously chic in a black silk slip dress, high leather boots, a fur coat draped casually around her shoulders and two fabulous rings: one a giant turquoise, the other a diamond.
“Rykiel is really a different kind of company,” explains Nathalie. “We’re family-owned, and we’re run by women. What interests me is the woman behind the clothes — she’s more important.” Nathalie had originally planned on becoming a doctor or a movie director, but when she was 20 years old, her mother asked her to model in a show. She agreed. “I had no confidence,” she recalls. “I dropped five kilograms in a week and ended up modelling for five seasons. Then I decided that what I really wanted to do was work behind the scenes in the company.”
If you happen to wander over to Rykiel’s flagship boutique on Boulevard Saint-Germain, be prepared to experience some sticker shock. The beauty of Rykiel’s collaboration with H&M is that it marries the brand’s cheeky/sexy sensibility with H&M’s affordability. “We have always carried less-expensive items in our shops, such as candles, books and even sex toys,” says Nathalie, “but now we’re doing it on a large scale. After such a tough [economic] year, women will still be able to wear Rykiel.”
Nathalie sees fashion as a balm for the spirit. “You have to fight day to day in life, especially if you’re not privileged. I wouldn’t say that I’m an optimist — you’d have to be a little bit stupid to be an optimist. But, at the same time, I have to help people dream. Fashion is a dream, and sometimes you can be a part of that dream.”