In a week of high-profile debuts (Wang at Balenciaga, Puglisi at Ungaro), there's been a lot of talk about going back to the archives. But Geraldo da Conceicao, who made his debut as creative director at Sonia Rykiel for Fall 2013, paid homage to the brand's founder while offering a new look for her house.
April Crichton is set to leave Sonia Rykiel now that Geraldo da Conceicao has been appointed creative director — but before she started packing up her desk, she created a final collection that helps herald a new direction for the French house.
While Crichton didn't exactly abandon Rykiel's signatures, she did set them aside momentarily to consider something more Japanese than French. There were kimono shapes and allusions to the obi belt sprinkled generously throughout, along with splotches of color applied like dollops of blue whipped cream to a jumpsuit and dress. And what of Rykiel's iconic knitwear? Crichton deconstructed it slightly, leaving the weave open in places on a shirt and skirt in mint green and a poncho in gentle pink.
Photos courtesy of Sonia Rykiel
Geraldo da Conceicao, currently a women's design director at Louis Vuitton, will soon take over the artistic director's chair at Sonia Rykiel. He'll show his first collection for Rykiel in a Fall 2013 runway show.
To prepare for the staff change, Rykiel has canceled the show it planned to stage during Paris Fashion Week and will instead host a presentation for buyers and editors. It's believed Rykiel's current creative director April Crichton will part ways with the house.
Da Conceicao's hiring is part of a restructuring designed to expand the Rykiel brand internationally. The Rykiel family sold an 80 percent stake in the business to Fung Brands Ltd. in February and since then has seen a number of staff changes on its business team.
"We are opening a new chapter for the company," said Jean-Marc Loubier, chairman at Rykiel and president of Fung Brands. "We are sure [da Conceicao] will be able to take the Rykiel woman and make her international."
Rykiel herself has been a less and less present part of the brand recently. In the autobiography she released this Spring, the 81-year-old designer revealed a longstanding battle with Parkinson's disease.
Photo: The finale of Sonia Rykiel's Fall 2012 show.
>> In her new book, designer Sonia Rykiel confesses that she's been hiding her battle with Parkinson's disease from the world for the past 15 years.
Rykiel, 81, writes in N'oubliez pas que je joue (Don't Forget It's a Game) that she decided to open up about her disease because she can no longer hide the symptoms, which include trembling. She also notes that her colleagues didn't allow her to be photographed with the cane she's been using for several years.
"I don't want to show my pain," Rykiel writes. "I resisted, I hesitated, I tried to be invisible, to pretend that nothing was wrong. It's impossible, it's not like me."
In the book, cowritten with French journalist Judith Perrignon, Rykiel refers to the disease in code as "P de P" — "Putain de Parkinson," or "bitch of Parkinson's" in English.
Rykiel started designing her own clothing in 1962 because she couldn't find maternity sweaters soft enough for her liking. In 1967, one of her sweaters landed on the cover of Elle and Rykiel was dubbed Queen of Knits. Rykiel's daughter Nathalie took over as creative director of her mother's brand in 1995. Despite her disease and her decreased involvement with the brand, Rykiel was well enough to attend the Fall 2012 show last month.
There's a perfect nonchalance and a decidedly sporty edge to Sonia Rykiel's Fall 2012. April Crichton's collection is an artful balance of menswear and feminine dressing — we're treated to both strong suiting that takes shape in double-breasted coats and boxier silhouettes before the looks soften into more femme territory. That's femme without the frills — even ruching or sheer fabrications appear easy, never overworked. Dresses skim curves, but don't hug — it's knitwear that gets the sexiest finish on pencil skirts and slim sweaters with a sweatband-style headband that calls to mind more literal definitions of sportswear.
- Trends: Menswear, pastels, knitwear, sheer.
- Colors: Black, peach, red, teal, white, nude.
- Key Look: The soft printed and ruched dresses are a pretty departure from the sharp suits; we're taken with Rykiel's sexier knitwear.
- Accessories: Ankle-strap platforms, boots, and ankle-crop booties finished in slick black patent; sporty headbands.
- Who Would Wear It: Girls who don't try too hard, like Kate Bosworth and Rachel Bilson; Kirsten Dunst would be a perfect fit for any of the line's pretty frocks.
>> A pretty palette of apricot, peach, and red dominated April Crichton's Fall 2012 collection for Sonia Rykiel. Silhouettes were slim and high on the neck, with a few oversize coats and jackets to provide contrast. Knits — the house's signature — came in an intriguing mix of chunky ribs, '70s colorblock, and superfine slim-fits.
Sonia Rykiel channeled the '20s for its Spring collection under the new creative direction of April Crichton. Filled with happy yellow hues and pretty watercolor prints, Crichton created a beautiful mix of pleated dresses and gowns, silk culottes, and loose trousers. To temper the softness, high-placed slits added a subtle, sexy touch. There were also some patterned sweater knits and a sweet lace pant suit we'd like to wear to the office. Overall, an effortless, feminine collection perfect for work or play. More details from the beautiful show below.
- Trends: Pleats, high slits, midi hemlines, baggy trousers.
- Colors: Yellow, orange, red, tan.
- Key Look:The pleated dresses and skirts.
- Accessories: Lace-up flats and booties, metallic structured totes, shoulder bags, chic baseball-inspired caps.
- Who Would Wear It: Girls who like feminine, yet polished pieces like Olivia Palermo.