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If you're into French literature and colorfully chic French clothing, you should definitely set aside some time to visit Sonia Rykiel's new store that just opened on Madison Avenue. "Our old store was here, and when my grandmother would come to New York, she was always at the St. Regis or having lunch at Le Charlot," Sonia's granddaughter Lola Rykiel — who's also the brand's public relations director — explained to Racked when asked why the brand chose this location. "Uptown is definitely where our base should be to reset our roots."
Situated on the same block as Proenza Schouler and Dolce & Gabbana children's boutique, Sonia Rykiel is definitely in good company. But just like the label's clothing, Sonia Rykiel definitely stands out among its fancy surroundings with details like its red lacquered interior and whimsical carpeting designed by André Seraive.
When you first walk in, you won't know whether you want to shop or enjoy a cup of coffee over an old French classic at one of the café tables near the entrance. The walls are lined floor to ceiling with 15,000 books sourced straight from Paris, and the vast collection includes all the French greats like Flaubert's Madame Bovary and Balzac's Le Pére Goriot.
This sort of "shopping for high-end clothing in a literary café" experience is exactly the vibe that Rykiel is going for. "My grandmother used to put books in the windows of her first store, and she's a writer herself, so books are just super important to the Rykiel brand's core and DNA," Lola went on to tell us.
While the books might hold your attention at first, it won't be long before you find yourself browsing through the displays of Rykiel's signature wide-leg denim, colorful fur, and adorable Le Copain bags that are sprinkled throughout the shop (and on the bookshelves, of course). You can find both the spring and pre-spring collections here, but be advised that, between the furry rainbow sweaters and the swallow-printed pajama suits, the pieces are so enamoring that you may leave broke — we could have easily walked out with one of everything.
The Madison Avenue shop will be the only one in New York for now (there's also a Bloomingdale's shop-in-shop), but there might very well be a Sonia Rykiel store downtown at some point in the future. "Of course we would love to go downtown, but to reset the identity of the brand, it makes more sense to start here," Lola said.
So in the meantime, those "I don't go above 14th Street" types should definitely consider breaking that cardinal rule.