This season, Sonia watched from the front-row as daughter Nathalie sent out another collection built on the Rykiel legacy: chunky tweed, easy knit, a dash of wit.
A bevy of models smiling, laughing, skipping down the catwalk has become a Sonia Rykiel house signature. It's not about catwalk pranks to distract from the collection - it's about models coming down from their pedestals, becoming real women (or rather, girls) rather than goddesses, and having fun in the clothes. This season, Sonia watched from the front-row as daughter Nathalie sent out another collection built on the Rykiel legacy: chunky tweed, easy knit, a dash of wit. Pom-poms pinned to headbands should have looked tricksy, alongside the gimmicky play-acting from the models, but it all became part and parcel of the show, which lost none of its frivolity (if some of its intimacy) in the move from Rykiel's Saint Germain boutique to a cavernous warehouse on the outskirts of Paris. Many collections couldn't have survived this massive space, but Nathalie Rykiel's subtle mix of nubby wool suiting and chunky wool sweater-dressing worked just fine. This season, there was a shying away from bright colour towards more subdued tones of oatmeal, fawn and blush-pink - although a fire-engine red knitted trench with the ease of a dressing gown was a bold exception, and had everyone sighing with delight. Those easy seventies Rykiel silhouettes suddenly chime with the rest of fashion too, and the wide-leg trousers - sometimes sewn-up into a natty all-in-one - were right on the button. Playful twists and turns of sweaters knotted every which-way around the body as tops and skirts sound unflattering, but actually worked surpassingly well in svelte knit, fitting into this season's fascination with fabric manipulation. And Rykiel has always had a wicked way with trompe l'oeil, this time knitting suits into sweaters, sometimes with the details rendered in three dimensions and tacked back down. With the rest of fashion setting your spine in rigid tailoring, these looked like the perfect alternative - as did the flowing, lingerie-inset gowns at the end that somehow managed to avoid the Oscar-roster cliche. The soundtrack may have intoned 'Bonsoir Cherie', but if they were nightgowns, they were definitely ones you'd want to be seen in.