Madison Avenue just gained the world's chicest library. Sonia Rykiel, the iconic French fashion brand, opened its first stateside location in February, stocked with sequin dresses, signature knits, and (wait for it) over 15,000 books. Artistic director Julie de Libran, artist Andre Araiva, and publisher Thomas Lenthal of Paradis Magazine conceived the idea for the store and took inspiration from the historic French literary cafes that dot Paris's Left Bank.
"In 1968, my grandmother Sonia was the first to put books, not just clothing, in the windows of her boutique in her first store on Rue de Grenelle," explains Lola Rykiel, public relations director and granddaughter to Sonia Rykiel. "We invite guests to stop in and have a coffee, read a book and relax. They can even take one with them if they like!"
The floor-to-ceiling red lacquer bookshelves contain everything from French classics to erotic literature (which is showcased in the dressing rooms). Color, shape, and spine size were all taken into account when choosing the perfect combination of texts. "The idea, in fact, was to be more organic," Lola says, "to look like someone's personal library rather than completely uniform." Lola notes that her grandmother, a major bibliophile, had probably read all of them.
This perfect assembly of books gives shoppers some great style inspiration for their own home bookshelves. The designers put the most recognizable titles, such as Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant and Le Père Goriot by Balzac, at eye level so that passers-by would stop in their tracks. Heights and thicknesses of books are also varied, and some books were even pushed farther back in the shelves to create a more lived-in vibe. But most importantly, this rhythm is repeated throughout the store. "My advice would be to have some element of repetition on a larger scale," Lola says of honing your own home-book styling.
And it's not just the books that evoke that Parisian feeling. Vintage 1960s black leather sofas and seats are scattered throughout, as well as classic woven café chairs accompanied by bistro tables. Even the carpet (which is covered in a pattern of lips, eyes, pencils, and books) relates back to the overall theme. So when you drop by, feel free to pick up a good book— and an outfit or two.