Sonia Rykiel (Oct 2001)
INGRID SISCHY: Sonia?
SONIA RYKIEL: Oui. Bonjour Ingrid.
IS: Hello. Tell me about Paris and fashion.
SR: You can create fashion everywhere in the world, but the place where you are crowned is Paris. It's where you are the queen, or the king. For me, though, I have to say that the identity of a fashion designer is international today.
IS: Sonia, when you were very young did you want to be a fashion designer?
SR: Never--my only ambition was to have 10 children. I knew nothing about fashion, it was an accident. I married a man who was in fashion. I began to work when my daughter Nathalie was about eight or 10 years old. Then one day I began to make a sweater, and eventually the sweater was on the front page of Elle magazine. And the day after I was the queen of knit in America.
IS: [laughs] When exactly did you begin?
SR: In 1968. I opened the shop on rue de Grenelle in May 1968.
IS: Which came first, your shop or the riots?
SR: My shop opened and 15 days later I closed it.
IS: Because of the riots?
SR: Yes. For my own part, I was influenced by the hippie movement in San Francisco and by the feminist movement, which had arrived in Paris.
IS: All your career you have remained close to writers and people in the arts, correct?
SR: Oh, yes. I can't go any place without going to museums. It's very important for me. When I miss one, I say to myself, "You are a bad girl."
IS: [laughs] Sonia? If I was to come to Paris tomorrow, and said I'd like you to take me to places so I could understand the essence of Paris over different decades, where would you take me? Let's start with the '60s.
SR: Well...Crazy Horse Saloon, for the '60s. You will see that and die, because it's fantastic.
IS: I'm sure. And the '70s; would that also be the Crazy Horse Saloon?
SR: Why not? Yes.
IS: For the '80s, where would we go?
SR: A cemetery. Le Cimetiere Montparnasse or Le Pere Lachaise. You can see all the young people going around the tombs of Baudelaire, Maupassant, Man Ray, De Musset. It is absolutely fantastic.
IS: How about the '90s?
SR: I don't know if you like Proust...
IS: Who doesn't?
SR: You know, the more grown-up you are, the more you like Proust. And there is a place in Paris. It's on Boulevard Haussmann. It's open only on Thursdays. It's in the middle of a bank, on the second floor. In this bank, there is the bedroom of Marcel Proust, where he wrote most of A la Recherche du Temps Perdu.
SR: What do you want to know next?
IS: For you, what place captures the essence of Paris right now?
SR: I would take you to the Musee Picasso, and to La Pagode, a movie theater that only shows independent movies. And there is also a bar in Paris that I love. It's the bar de la Closerie des Lilas, in Montparnasse, a place where you can redo the world.
Sonia Rykiel is Designer and President of Sonia Rykiel.