After its eponymous founder’s departure in 2009, classic Parisian brand Sonia Rykiel spent five years in a creative flounder, until the appointment of Julie de Libran as artistic director in May 2014. Touted by Vogue as “the girl with the golden touch” for her work at Louis Vuitton and Prada, De Libran has brought a freshness to the label – upholding and updating the spirit of Sonia Rykiel, with modern twists on its iconic stripes and sweaters and bringing the brand back to the forefront of French chic.
For a long time one of the most well-respected designers in the industry, with an illustrious career including a 10 year stint at Prada and 6 years in command of Louis Vuitton’s women’s cruise and pre-fall, as well as their Icons collection, her arrival at Sonia Rykiel marks the first time De Libran herself has stepped into the spotlight.
Educated at both the Instituto Marangoni in Milan and Paris’ l’Ecole de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, De Libran cut her fashion teeth working for Gianfranco Ferré (both while he designed for Dior and later at his own label), and then Versace. She joined Prada in 1998, during which time she was credited with establishing the fashion house as a celebrity and event dresser. After moving to Louis Vuitton in 2008, The Telegraph dubbed her the label’s “secret weapon.” She was considered by many to have been in the running to replace Marc Jacobs , before exiting the brand after the appointment of Nicholas Ghesquière in 2014.
It is Sonia Rykiel, however, that De Libran has described as a spiritual fit for her as a designer. “I had goosebumps when they called to offer me the job,” she told Vogue. Since her Spring/Summer 2015 debut at Paris Fashion Week, De Libran has proved herself capable of handling Sonia Rykiel’s large legacy. Evoking the brand’s 1970s beginnings (De Libran was inspired the original 1970s pieces she had pillaged from her mother’s wardrobe) De Libran staged her first show in the mirrored Rykiel boutique in Paris’ ultra-chic Left Bank. Looks, including evening jumpsuits and fringed knits, captured the brand’s casual cool and understated sexy aesthetic with a 21st century twist – De Libran deliberately experimented with denim and leather, two materials new to the house. Paper Magazine captured the response of the industry when it ran the headline, “Sonia Rykiel is officially the brand of choice for cool women worldwide.”