The Upper East Side just got a little more French thanks to Sonia Rykiel. With glossy red mannequins and interiors, the brand's new Madison Avenue flagship certainly stands out among its neighboring retailers — Belstaff, Max Mara, Jil Sander and Lanvin among them. It's the fashion label's first freestanding store in the States since it shuttered its original outpost, just a few blocks north, in 2011. "We are thrilled to bring Sonia Rykiel back to Madison Avenue," says CEO Eric Langon in a statement. "This is a key step in the brand's global development."
Upon entering, shoppers are truly transported to Paris's Left Bank as the black-and-white tiled floor, wooden chairs and marble tables are a nod to the traditional French brasserie. The boutique's concept marks the work of artistic director Julie de Libran, who joined the label from Louis Vuitton in 2014, in collaboration with System art director Thomas Lenthal. The other half of the store is covered with a dark blue carpet and is the work of artist André Saraiva, another collaborator for the shop; it features a motif of quirky Parisian tropes (cigarettes, books, pencils, eyes and lips) that are meant to signify the Sonia Rykiel woman.
As for the literary décor, each book — there are thousands in total — was hand-selected by Lenthel, sourced from France and strategically placed on each red lacquer shelf to showcase the best cover art. Oh, and there are clothes and accessories as well: a mix of pre-season and runway apparel and the label's new Le Copain leather handbags. Fitting rooms are discreetly located in the back and also carry a handful of books should you have the desire to catch up on Ernest Hemingway while trying on a swallow-printed silk pajama set.
Setting up shop on the Upper East Side (versus choosing a downtown spot in Soho) seems like a wise decision; such high-end brands as The Row, Isabel Marant and Aquazarra have plans to open up brick-and-mortar locales along the luxury shopping strip as well, though none will be as overtly French as this.