Sonia Rykiel boutiques may be omnipresent in France, but in the United States the designer’s quirky Parisian chic has never really caught on.
While the designer has pieces from her diffusion line at high-end boutiques like Intermix, and has tried making a play for a share of the U.S. market with an H&M collaboration, nothing seems to stick.
In fact, I got up bright and early to shop the Sonia Rykiel pour H&M collection, only to discover that I was literally the only one there the morning of the launch. The designer’s diminutive Madison Avenue boutique has also been notably empty nearly every time I’ve stopped in.
In an attempt to increase their State-side sales, the French fashion house showed its Resort and pre-Spring collections at Milk Studios in New York City for the first time.
In addition, the brand hired Caroline Dumiel, who previously worked with the U.S. market portion of Kenzo and Polo Ralph Lauren’s business. Dumiel will serve as director of international sales. The time is now or never for Rykiel to make a play for the U.S. market, as Parisian-influenced styles are hotter than ever, especially with the recent opening of an Isabel Marant boutique in New York City, and the planned opening of a Vanessa Bruno shop in Los Angeles.
Striped looks – a Rykiel signature – have been all over the resort shows. Fittingly, the pre-Spring Sonia Rykiel was inspired by seaside resorts in the South of France in the 1930′s.
Unlike what may have been anticipated, the collection wasn’t stripe-heavy, but focused on reinterpreting classic Art Deco silhouettes with signature Rykiel touches – polka dots, straw hats, high-waisted pants topped with slender belts, and bow ties. The quirkiness seemed a bit toned down, but the designer offered a lot in the way of wearable separates and feminine dresses that will hopefully help the brand increase their visibility on this side of the Atlantic.