The Label: Desperate to find comfy, stylish clothes to wear during her pregnancy in the early sixties, Parisian Sonia Rykiel decided to make some of her own. In 1968, she opened her own boutique on the Left Bank from which she hawked her covetable knits. The American press dubbed her the Queen of Knits. From there, she proceeded to invert seams, de-line looks, and add other non-precious, fun effects to her clothes, winning her a following among the fashion-forward folks. The Designer: Born in Paris in 1930, Sonia Rykiel had no formal design training except window dressing when she was a teenager. But in 1985, the French government showed its appreciation by awarding her the Legion dHonneur. Today, her daughter Nathalie, who serves as the companys creative director, infuses much of her mothers cheekiness into the labelshe added sex toys to the retail offerings at their freestanding stores.
The designer wowed her audience by tossing aside any niche notion of what Lela Rose is all about. She has eclipsed her rather prim party clothes with what one might call quirky sportswear. Dressed-up sporty? Certainly. And still hip enough to be perfect for those young ladies who lunch in the Meatpacking District. They would love her effortless mixes: thigh-high organza peplum skirts with offbeat printed tanks; perfectly cut cotton tweed shorts with a silk faille track jacket. The designers slightly hippie edge think ikat, dip-dyeing and beads, all polished to a high shine of sophistication makes this her best collection ever. The ease is evident, too, in her latest flirty signature dresses, among them the patch-embroidered cotton, drop-waist tank version and abstract plaid T-shirt shapes, which all reflect Roses newfound freedom.