Friday, October 10, 2008

Sonia Rykiel: Style Inspiration

I was recently inspired by an interview WWD did with Sonia Rykiel (my favorite parts are excerpted below). I've always felt women should dress for themselves, for who they are at their best. I argue that women should know their bodies, and finding your own style is directly related to that knowledge. And I've said since I was a teenager that most fashion dictates are bogus. There's no way I can say it better than Rykiel, so read on.

The heavy-banged fiery redhead is such a style icon that 30 designers created homage dresses for her Paris show, which also celebrates her label's 40th anniversary. Rykiel's influence even seemed to reach beyond her show. From the runway at Christian Lacroix to the new Alexander McQueen ads, flaming red hair sets the mood.

Looks by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Maison Martin Margiela, and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Model at Christian Lacroix, Alexander McQueen fall ad.

Excerpted from WWD Q&A 10/01/08 (my favorite quotes are in bold):

WWD: Your designs were always linked to St. Germain and the Left Bank.
S.R.: Maybe. I don’t think I’m a designer for St. Germain. I think of myself as a designer for women everywhere. I’m more interested in a certain ethic for women, a certain sculpture for women, a certain attitude. Women who interest me are politicians or writers. Women who love life, who love to eat, who love children. That’s what interests me. Where is the woman of St. Germain in that? She belongs there because that’s the culture of St. Germain. It’s a question of appetite. The women of St. Germain are voracious. They love literature, cinema, to look at the vitrines, to shop for antiques.

WWD: That’s the type of woman you like to dress?
S.R.: I’ve never been interested in dressing one women. What’s interested me was to have a philosophy. It hasn’t been important to put a woman in a blue dress. I wanted to dress women who wanted to look at themselves. To stand out. To be women who were not part of the crowd. A woman who fights and advances.

WWD: That brings up the late Sixties, when you started. It was a time of social upheaval, especially for women. Do you think women have come out of that era with more liberty now?
S.R.: Not really. I think women today don’t have an attitude of liberty. There are so few women today who look at themselves truthfully in the mirror, during a day, a week, a month, a year, to know what they need to show and what they need to hide. Women learn to cook and read, and they work. They don’t learn how to dress. They are always with a saleswoman in the store whom they ask what they should wear. I don’t believe in that at all. Women should look at themselves and decide for themselves what color or length they should wear.

WWD: You suggest that they find their own personality through clothes?
S.R.: Yes. I wrote a book on the subject when I started urging women to learn how to find their own fashion. Not to follow the dictates of Saint Laurent or Rykiel or any other designer. It’s very important.

WWD: You’ve never been interested in following rules.
S.R.: I never went to fashion school. That’s why I sewed things inside out and did superpositions. I did everything people told me I couldn’t do. People said making clothes inside out was not proper. I disagreed because clothes that are inside out are as beautiful as a cathedral. There’s symbolism in putting on a sweater inside out. One says that if one puts on a sweater on inside out, one will receive a gift. I played with that.

WWD: You’ve always held that clothes aren’t what make a woman interesting or seductive.
S.R.: Not at all. No, no. A dress will never make a woman sexy, fatale, magnificent, mysterious. It’s a way of walking, of standing, or existing, the way you give your hand or your regard. That’s what makes the dress. A woman and a dress, very often, fight against each other because they are not at the same place. Sometimes you see the woman moving the belt around. She is making the robe her own. She needs that. Otherwise the dress doesn’t exist.

Thanks WWD for the interview/photos and Refinery29 for the Lacroix model photo.

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