Dotty and very, very smart.
Throughout our interview Rykiel refers to herself in the third person as “the creator”, alongside “the author”, “the poet” and “the painter,” Often incorporating words into her designs, she once told the International Herald Tribune’s Suzy Menkes: “I feel more like a novelist than a fashion designer.”
Is there such a thing as intelligent fashion, I ask? “I don’t know,” she admits, touchingly. “All I can say is that it’s what I try to do. It doesn’t matter one damn bit whether fashion is art or not. You don’t question whether an incredible chef is an artist or not – his cakes are delicious and that’s all that matters. Fashion is there to serve a purpose.”
Just when you presume to think what Rykiel’s take on a certain subject is, she proves you wrong. When I ask whether celebrity came as an unwelcome partner to success, she shakes her head. “No, no. I wanted to be recognised – that really interested me. And as I’ve got older it means more and more to me, because celebrity is recognition of what I have achieved.
"This is an unbelievably difficult job and one I drain myself doing. They recently had a retrospective of my work here in Paris and I walked around it thinking that had it not been by me I would have been thinking: 'My God this woman is wonderful’.