Lola Rykiel is the granddaughter of the late designer Sonia Rykiel, a figure so renowned in France, where fashion is as hallowed a national tradition as labor strikes, that she is the only designer—before Chanel, Dior, and Saint Laurent—to have a Paris street named after her. The Allée Sonia Rykiel was dedicated in 2018, two years after the designer passed away at age 86. That is one of the reasons why Lola, who was the last family member actively working at the brand, was sad to see the iconic 51-year-old house liquidated last summer after Fung Brands, which acquired the label in 2012, failed to steer it toward profitability.
But you can skip the condolences. Lola isn’t interested in perpetually mourning Sonia Rykiel’s demise. She has moved on. Within a few months of leaving her post as public-relations director at Rykiel last March, Lola was hard at work on the launch of Pompom Paris, a small collection of athleisure-wear that plays to her own love of dance and Pilates by way of her grandmother’s signature velour jogging suits, an uncredited predecessor to the Juicy Couture rage of the early aughts. On the runway, Sonia Rykiel was known as the queen of knits, but on the street, rainbow-bright velour was the brand’s bread and butter. “It was the thing we were selling the most,” says Lola. “Women were crazy about it. Even today when I meet some women, they’re like, ‘Oh, the velour! I still have my outfit from the 80s.’”