Photographs by Hughes Laurent, styled by Mari David.
Lola Rykiel’s engagement to Jérémie Kanza last year did not have an auspicious beginning. It was August, and the couple, who have known each other since they were 13-year-old students in Paris, thought they were headed on holiday to Greece. Only Rykiel, fresh from a family trip to Ibiza, couldn’t find her passport. After a huge fight, as Rykiel recalled, “I was crying, Jérémie ran after me, and he took me to the Luxembourg Gardens, and we calmed down on a bench. After, he was like, ‘I’m so upset because I wanted to propose to you in Greece.’ And then he proposed to me.”
There was, however, a silver lining: Since the couple was stuck in Paris, Rykiel had the opportunity to introduce her fiancé—whom she had only been dating for a few months—to her grandmother, the renowned fashion designer Sonia Rykiel, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and would pass away only weeks later.
“To imagine my grandmother is not going to be there for my wedding...it’s just crazy,” said Rykiel on a spring evening in New York, ahead of her July nuptials, her white- and canary-diamond toi et moi engagement ring delicately twinkling at every word. “I always talked about that day with her.”
Indeed, it was an occasion that Sonia looked forward to as much as her granddaughter. Lola recalled her asking repeatedly, “When am I going to get to do your dress?” In light of Sonia’s passing, Rykiel turned to Julie de Libran, the artistic director of Sonia Rykiel since 2014. For the civil ceremony, which was held at the town hall for the 6th arrondissement and followed by a champagne celebration at, appropriately enough, a buvette in the nearby Luxembourg Gardens, de Libran created a sleeveless white crepe sateen jumpsuit with a matching jacket trimmed in marabou and ostrich feathers. Madame Rykiel platform shoes adorned with fox pom-poms completed the look.
As a child, Lola used to chide her grandmother for sending her brides down the runway in sweatpants, high heels, and a veil reading RYKIEL. “I was so girly I was hoping the bride would have a huge dress,” said the 31-year-old, who runs the public relations and consulting firm Le Chocolat Noir (Sonia Rykiel is one of her clients). “I never saw myself in a jumpsuit, but I tried it, and it was so original, and I thought my grandmother would have approved.”
She would have undoubtedly also loved the wedding gown de Libran designed for the religious ceremony, held the next day in a “bohemian eccentric” space in the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, in the 19th arrondissement. Lola had brought de Libran one of her favorite party dresses—the one she was wearing when she and Kanza had their first kiss. De Libran reimagined the off-the-shoulder sequined T-shirt style as a proper gown in iridescent white–and–pale pink stripes—a Rykiel signature motif—accessorized with satin flats trimmed with feathers. (“Like a home slipper!” said de Libran.) The short veil came from Lola’s good friend the milliner Gigi Burris. Marie-Hélène de Taillac provided the diamond choker.
“It feels wedding, but it could be a great party dress too,” said de Libran—an appropriate assessment, given that the celebratory festivities included dancing to a hip-hop soundtrack from Kanza’s DJ friend, and food stalls brimming with French cuisine. (Kanza owns a pair of restaurants in the city called Balls, where the focus is meatballs.) “The dress is quite beautiful in the attitude and movement,” de Libran added. “It’s important for the bride to feel like nothing is in her way.” Indeed, Rykiel hoped to convince Kanza to “go to the party with our suitcases and just go on the honeymoon the next morning.”
And where were the newlyweds headed?
“I think to Greece,” said Rykiel, with a smile.
Watch: Sofia Coppola Does a Studio Visit with Sonia Rykiel's Julie de Libran