This year's 40th anniversary gave Sonia Rykiel; her daughter, Nathalie; and their newly appointed creative director, Gabrielle Greiss, license to raid the archives. There were striped sweaters, dolly-bird minidresses, and, of course, much joie de vivreevident in color-blocked leather wedges and platforms, in striped tights, in rhinestone-dashed bags and hats, and in the honest-to-goodness smiles from the models. Believe it or not, one or two of the girls even skipped down the runway. How did Madame Rykiel manage that?
The trapeze was the dominant silhouette. The design trio used it for the colorful intarsia sweaters that opened the show and for double-breasted short coat-dresses in ivory or violet cashmere, as well as for floor-sweeping silk tent dresses in cheeky photo prints. None of this broke new groundand no one expects that of this housebut the collection did make the most of the ways in which Rykiel's signatures intersect with Fall trends, like volume play and sweater dressing. A three-piece shorts suit was cut closer to the body, as were other tailored pieces, some embroidered with candy-colored plastic discs. Not exactly what you'd call office-appropriate, but that's never been what Rykiel is about.
She's famous, for one thing, for her feel-good finales. This time, in honor of her 1968 beginnings, she played the Beatles' "Revolution" and the girls came out with strass-encrusted minidresses or T-shirts and briefs, a few of them done up in the likeness of the flame-haired designer herself. Rykiel's face has entered the pop culture lexicon, and that's nothing if not a testament to her success.