Sonia Rykiel Debuts California-Inspired Couture Collection to Open Paris Week

Courtesy of Sonia Rykiel
Sonia Rykiel Couture

The brand celebrated its big birthday with the launch of its California-inspired couture collection, while Azzaro's showed some jungle vibes.

Six seasons into helming Sonia Rykiel, Julie de Libran debuted the house’s first couture collection in the garden of L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, but the inspiration was equal parts Los Angeles, where Libran grew up from 1980 to 1990.

Atomic Blonde actress Sofia Boutella and supermodel Liya Kebede were seated at tricolor café chairs and tables scattered in the grass. Surrounded by the dramatic arches and ancient statues of the courtyard, it felt less like a fashion show and more like the most fabulous Sunday brunch.

Naturally there was green juice.

De Libran certainly brought some California cool to this collection. In the show notes, she quoted legendary fashion editor Marylou Luther's words in the Los Angeles Times from 1967: “Couture is not enough. You need a Rykiel.” 

And so Libran showed carefree couture, unstructured and unrestrained, with oversized jackets unbuttoned, held together with giant bows; hands were tucked into slim cut trousers, with coats opening as capes in the back. Every look had an air of grandeur but was also completely grounded.

Models were sent out with feathered fauxhawks (and at least one wig that nodded to Rykiel's famous flame red hair). Georgia May Jagger walked in a knitted black dress, embroidered with a sequin bikini top, another nod to that beach lifestyle de Libran loves. And then it was onto the bride — that last look for any couture collection. She sent out a model in ripped jeans, a white corset top and oversized veil. Definitely not for the demure (maybe Stephanie Seymour in a “November Rain”). While perhaps the only sartorial misstep in the collection, it certainly signaled her intention that this was not going to be conventional.

The house also took the occasion to launch its Generous Sweaters collection, a limited edition, Hollywood-created collection by Boutella, Lebede as well as Kirsten Dunst and Kristin Scott Thomas. All proceeds go to charity — with Dunst’s black and red floral number benefitting Planned Parenthood. “To me, every woman in the United States and elsewhere has the right to access correct medical care and contraception to ensure that she is in charge of her own destiny. Now more than ever Planned Parenthood needs our support,” Dunst said.  The collection will be available in stores and online in October.

Maxime Simoens' Jungle Fever at Azzaro

A year into his tenure, Maxime Simoens has infused the house of Azzaro with a new direction that had been sacrificed for sexiness under his predecessors. The one-time wunderkind of French fashion, Simoens brought a tropical theme to this collection that should get some red carpet play. He’s found fans in Ellen Pompeo and Mary J. Blige, and there were a few contenders here in the jungle themed-beaded dresses and suits. A pleated skirt and sweater combo also hit the mark for more causal wear.

Sending models out in strappy jelly sandals might have been Simoens' best call — played against all the sparkles they worked with the casualness of the current moment and, perhaps more importantly, the models could walk in them. A few pairs of heels were unfortunately less successful.

There were some empty seats front row, a marked contrast to the shows of his namesake line a few years ago, but he’s still young and worth keeping an eye on.