PARIS, France — The Parisian knitwear label Sonia Rykiel has announced that it has hired Julie de Libran as artistic director, effectively immediately. She will oversee all lines under the Sonia Rykiel label, including its ready-to-wear womenswear collections, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel contemporary line, and its children’s apparel and home goods ranges. De Libran was formerly studio director of women’s ready-to-wear at Louis Vuitton, where she also oversaw the brand’s cruise and pre-fall collections.
Her first runway collection for Sonia Rykiel will debut in September at Paris Fashion Week. The role was formerly held by Geraldo de Conceiçao, who was also previously at Louis Vuitton.
Born to an aristocratic Parisian family, but raised largely in sunny San Diego, California, de Libran recalls her mother wearing French brands like Chanel and Sonia Rykiel. At Louis Vuitton, she was widely considered second-in-command to Marc Jacobs and masterminded commercial hits like the ‘Sofia’ bag, named after her filmmaker friend Sofia Coppola.
Although some had tipped her as a possible successor to Jacobs, who departed Louis Vuitton in October of last year, de Libran quietly left the brand in January of this year after the arrival of Nicolas Ghesquière. She first joined Vuitton in 2008 from Prada, where she worked for a decade; De Libran has also designed for Versace and Gianfranco Ferré, and started her career at Dior after graduating from Milan’s Marangoni fashion school.
De Libran’s appointment comes at a time of development for the Sonia Rykiel label, which was founded in 1968 and has forged a reputation for its playful, irreverent knitwear. “When we bought Rykiel, it wasn’t making billions, but it was a company we thought we could develop,” Jean Marc Loubier, the brand’s chairman, told BoF in February.
Sonia Rykiel is majority-owned by Hong Kong-based First Heritage Brands, the investment arm of Fung Group, which took an 80 percent stake in the company in 2012. The Rykiel family own the remaining 20 percent.