Paris fashion house Sonia Rykiel goes bust with the loss of 131 jobs

AFP - [email protected]
Paris fashion house Sonia Rykiel goes bust with the loss of 131 jobs
Photo: AFP

The troubled Sonia Rykiel French fashion house - that once symbolised the rebellious spirit of Paris in 1968 - on Thursday went into liquidation.


A Paris court ordered the winding up of the loss-making brand founded by the "Queen of Knits" Rykiel, an icon of 1960s revolt against the fashion establishment.

Despite the boom in luxury French fashion, a buyer could not be found to take on the label since it went into receivership in April.

The founder designer, second left, who died in 2017. Photo: AFP

Several of the brand's 131 workers who were in court for the decision burst into tears when the winding up order was made.

Their lawyer Thomas Hollande told AFP that the decision would mean them losing their jobs.

Rykiel's first boutique opened on the Left Bank of the French capital in May 1968 just as students took to the streets outside demanding an end to the old order.

The designer, who died two years ago from Parkinson's disease aged 86, made her name with the "Poor Boy Sweater" made famous by film star Audrey Hepburn.

She is also credited with making wearing black the epitome of Parisian cool, once saying she didn't like wasting time choosing colours.

"I like to dress very simply - perhaps a black crepe jacket and black crepe trousers," she said.

Red-haired Rykiel caught the revolutionary spirt of the time with easy to wear clothes that often bore political slogans, and she signed a famous feminist declaration in 1971 that paved the way for the legalisation of abortion in France.

So great was her influence on Paris fashion in the 1970s - when the scene was dominated by the friends-turned-bitter-rivals Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent - that she was known as "Coco Rykiel", a nod to the pioneering female designer Coco Chanel.

But last year her brand - half of whose sales were in France - lost €30 million. 

Several investors had expressed interest in taking the house on, including the former chief of the Paris brand Balmain, Emmanuel Diemoz, and a Chinese conglomerate, but all came to nothing.

Sonia Rykiel's four boutiques and six other outlets will close immediately. 

The name could yet live on, however, if the name is acquired separately.


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