Julie de Libran, Sonia Rykiel's new artistic director, had us at hello with the book-lined boutique on the boulevard Saint-Germain last night. There were 40,000 of them apparently, collected from all over France. It was nice to see guests putting their phones down and flipping through some real paper for once. Audio clips from famous cinematic library-set scenes, like the one with Holly Golightly and 'Fred' in the New York Public Library, played in the background. Madame Rykiel has always been good with words - she has written many herself, and it was a quote of hers that was the starting point for de Libran. 'Beauty is no accident, it's invented, reflected, it's dialogue with the mirror, the one true dialogue.' She followed that up in the show notes with a few others, including Jorge Luis Borges' about Paradise being a kind of library and this Public Service Announcement from John Waters: 'If you go home with somebody and they don't have books, don't fuck 'em!'
If these were bookish college students then they're the chicest I've ever seen around campus. The opening navy shearling-lined peacoat - worn with a mariniére knit poking under the sleeves and knee-high socks in lieu of trousers - was fantastic. De Libran interpreted the aforementioned Rykiel quote on mirrors, quite literally - a reflective stripe cut across a tight little skirt, chainmail embellished fine stripey knits and there were silver metallic leather trousers too, teamed with a shrunken blazer that had a large safety pin instead of buttons. A soft corduroy jumpsuit was pretty fantastic (not an easy thing to pull off, the operative words being corduroy and jumpsuit) and so was a pink suede and shearling coat with subtle floral stitching. De Libran is a woman on a mission at Rykiel. The velvet and sequin eveningwear at the end hinted that she big ideas for the Parisian house that Sonia built. In the meantime, Vanessa Axente in a sequin striped leaf of a dress, the sides bare but for a few strategically placed straps, looked just like the kind of girl about whom some poor soul would sit and write a book.