Sonia Rykiel, as a company, is a rarity in the fashion world; it is completely owned by the Rykiel family, and has been for its complete 42-year existence, coming in and out of vogue with time. It seems the passing of the baton to Nathalie has brought about an "in" phase, personally and professionally.
The daughter of iconic designer Sonia Rykiel, and the company's creative director and president, is in a whirlwind of success.
In the short space of a few weeks, Rykiel published her first book, was named Chevalier with the medal of Arts and Letters by the French government and is enjoying the hype surrounding the launch of her second collection for Sonia Rykiel pour H&M.
"It's got a very strong identity," Rykiel told StyleList of the H&M collection. "You know, a bit quirky, a bit bohème, intellectual," words which could be used to describe Nathalie herself.
"From the beginning, Rykiel was luxe, but a luxe universe that all women could enter. H&M and Zara have made fashion accessible for many, many women," she explained.
"They made it so fashionable that it's chic to wear an H&M mixed with a Rykiel or Saint Laurent. For me, it was absolutely logical -- it is the way to offer the essence of Rykiel, with a few items, on a limited edition collection, to a lot of women."
The first Rykiel pour H&M collection was lingerie and blew out of the stores in December 2009, just in time for the holidays. "They asked me to do a second collection right afterward," Nathalie explained.
"They wanted me to do prêt-a-porter, but I wanted to go to the heart of the brand and do a knit collection for women and little girls, too."
The collection, which makes its debut in 250 select H&M stores tomorrow (Feb. 20), is a brightly colored grouping of knit sweaters, dresses, jackets, shorts and shirts. The line's essence is signature Sonia Rykiel.
"I think it's great," she smiled. "I'm very, very happy," and she was also glowing at the collection's preview at Bobo -- a chic little restaurant in New York City's West Village.
Rykiel held court alongside her daughter, Lola Burstein Rykiel, and hosted celebrities including Leighton Meester and Kelly Rutherford from "Gossip Girl," a head-to-toe Sonia Rykiel pour H&M-clad Michelle Williams (the singer) and was entertained by model Chanel Iman, who spun the records.
The celebration for Nathalie was the second in as many weeks. The week prior, she was awarded a knighthood in France's Order of Arts and Letters, alongside Louis Vuitton's Marc Jacobs. And while Jacobs cried at the ceremony, Rykiel took it in stride.
"I received a letter in August, telling me that I was selected and I was happy," she explained, "I was offered a ceremony at the Ministry of Culture and I'm very grateful, but at the same time, it doesn't mean that much. As soon as I finish something, I'm going on to the next thing."
The next thing was a celebration of her first book, "Tu Seras Une Femme, Ma Fille," the title of which is from the Rudyard Kipling poem "If," and translates as "You will become a woman, my daughter."
The book is about Rykiel's journey from being simply the daughter of a working mother to being a daughter of an icon, to becoming a mother of three girls and the head of an established fashion company.
"I talk about my childhood, my mother, my father, my brother, about business, my men, love, sex and I talk about how it's been to become what I am, working with such an iconic model," she said, concluding, "As a woman, I find it very interesting that in life, if a woman is to advance, she has to be moving all the time."
Writing the book has given Nathalie perspective when it comes to running her family's fashion house, and taking over the role as the public persona of Sonia Rykiel.
"I've been working with my mum since I started being a model for her when I was 20. I've always had a wonderful relationship with her, and have positioned myself next to her, but not instead of her," she explained.
"I've done all sorts of things in the company -- nearly everything. I breathe Rykiel. My blood is Rykiel, but I'm also a woman of today. I travel. I have children. I have a love. I love my work. If I want to change my hair, I do, if I want to change my look ... I think my way of representing Rykiel is of today."
For another fashionable interview, see what "The September Issue" director R.J. Cutler had to say about Anna Wintour and the soon-to-be-released DVD's bonus scenes.