Paris is currently schvitzing in a terribly unseasonable heatwave, so it makes sense (sort of) to see the twenties paraded as a key trend on the Spring/Summer 2012 French catwalks. After all, that was a time when Paris really sizzled. It was there on the Sonia Rykiel catwalk, one that can always be relied on to drawl out any emerging seasonal theme in a heavy Gallic accent, along with neat knits and a few ruffly silky chiffon things.
This season, the house Sonia built was in a summery mood - the catwalk was the yellow of Gruyère cheese, a shade that also leapt onto the clothes themselves. As usual, these were in the young and flirty Rykiel mode, dropped waists and dabbled prints peppering that twenties with a bit of seventies (sounds like decade potpourri, but it made sense). The knitwear, of course, was strong, with bandbox lurex stripes across carigans and vest-tops, and caramel-tone geometrics in wool on fitted sweaters worn with slouchy pinstriped trousers. A few white looks, pale silk-crepe suiting and natty badminton knits, were pure Great Gatsby, arguably more reminiscent of Ralph Lauren's seventies output that either F. Scott Fitzgerald or Rykiel, but they still looked louche and elegant. Pay special notice to the slightly open whitework fabric, midway between lace and broiderie anglaise, used to fashion a simple trouser-suit, latching on to next season's love of lacerated surface decoration but with a different perspective.
That was all as usual chez Rykiel, but there was significant change this season. Nathalie Rykiel, Sonia's daughter, is stepping down as creative head and handing the reigns over to her former assistant April Crichton, who emerged to take her inaugural bow alongside Rykiel's swansong. It's all change at Rykiel then, but unlike so many other Paris houses they don't feel the need to make a song and dance of it.