Sonia Rykiel Ready To Wear Fall Winter 2013 Paris
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Any designer who is showing after dark at the dismal Halle Freyssinet venue in the thirteenth arrondissement in Paris is already fighting an up hill battle with an audience that isn’t thrilled to be there. But came they did to see the debut of a new designer at Sonia Rykiel, the famed French fashion house that has built an empire out of knitwear.

The brand, which is now 80% owned by Fung Brands - an investment firm backed by two Hong Kong billionaires, chose Geraldo da Conceicao as the designer to dust off the label and introduce it to a new generation of customers. On paper he looked like a sure thing.  He worked with the likes of Tom Ford and Stefano Pilati, was with Alber Elbaz during his stint at Yves Saint Laurent and clocked in a solid five years as design director at Miu Miu. He even spent some time in the presence of Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton.

With such a wealth of experience under his belt it is a shame that his first show was so underwhelming and often unflattering. The first few knit dresses and two piece suits were fine enough with their mélange of different yarns, even if they came with droopy leather button embellishments, but they looked more high street then high fashion. As for the shaggy poncho outerwear, coats build from stiff looking beaver and fuzzy angora pants cut with a drop crotch and cropped pant leg, they looked designed more for the editorial set then the real world.

Da Conceicao clearly was trying to bring in a bit of the cheeky sexuality that is part of the Rykiel DNA when he outfitted some form fitting kit dresses with a “modesty” band of downy pink yarn across the breast and an equally wooly triangle in white covering the nether regions. But it felt a little too literal for comfort. Better was the finale where a multitude of colorful full legged leather pants with oversized front pockets came with a slew of multicolored knit sweaters. If the open weave versions, that let the braless model’s taunt nipples pop through, gets a lining then those are a place for buyers to start.

- Jessica Michault

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