Meet Pompom, The Athleisure Brand Inspired By Sonia Rykiel

Lola Rykiel, Sonia Rykiel's granddaughter, taps into her fashion DNA for a fun new athleisure line

Pompom Athleisure

Photo: Pompom

Athleisure brands tend to follow the same formula—minimal, with some cutouts on leggings, something cropped, a lot of black. Lola Rykiel is shaking up the status quo with a bold new athleisure collection, called Pompom, inspired by her famed designer grandmother, the late Sonia Rykiel, and her past as a ballerina under the instruction of the inimitable Martha Graham. “The collection incorporates the velours that my grandmother loved as well as stretch Lycra materials and playful detailing,” Rykiel explains, referring in part to a basketball jersey complete with mermaid-esque paillettes.

The collection, which hits retail in November, also includes biker shorts, bold pops of pink, and pieces that would look just as at home out for a chic dinner as post-barre class. Hear more from Rykiel about her new venture and see the full lookbook, shot on location of Sonia Rykiel’s apartment in Paris, below.

Related article: From The Archives: Lola Rykiel Honours Her Grandmother

Pompom Athleisure

Photo: Pompom

Tell us about your ballet background.

Lola Rykiel: I started when I was a little girl in Paris. One of Sonia’s younger sisters, my Aunt Janine, had a ballet school called Stanlowa. It still exists now. It is a real institution in Paris!

I started when I was 3 or 4, like most little French girls. I continued until I was 10 and then switched to different styles—modern jazz, contemporary, et cetera, tap dance. I did a long break and took it more seriously after I was 17 and enrolled in the Martha Graham School in NYC a few years later.

Pompom Athleisure

Photo: Pompom

Why did you want to launch an athleisure brand?

I feel like now working out is more and more part of everyday life, not only for ex-dancers like me but as well for a lot of women. I saw it when I was living in NYC obviously, where everyone goes to yoga, Pilates, cycling, running before or after work, but now that I am back in France, I noticed how much more French women are working out and are being much less timid about it.

I felt a bit frustrated with what was available. I wish it was a bit more fun, glamorous, but still comfy and good to move in. I don’t want to be ashamed if I bumped into someone I know after a workout, because I just don’t have a cute outfit.

Related article: Dolce & Gabbana Extends Their Size Range To Include Plus-Sizes

Pompom Athleisure

Photo: Pompom

Where did the name “Pompom” come from?

Pompon means “tassels” in French, but with an American twist. My grandmother used to put pompons everywhere—on the shoes, the sweaters, her drawings, packed the presents she will give us for birthdays. I loved the way she pronounced it too.

It is synonymous of childhood for me and very nostalgic.

Then growing up in Paris, I was fascinated by American high school culture that I saw in movies like Grease. I wanted to be a cheerleader with a uniform and have some pompoms too! But in France, there is no such thing—same for lockers at school or diners with milkshakes and waitress with Rollerblades.

Pompom Athleisure

Photo: Pompom

What was your inspiration for the first collection?

I always loved watching the dance outfits, the total pale pink look of the little ballerina at the dance school with her little bun and the modern dancers during rehearsals wearing tights, a leotard, and huge conformable trousers rolled up to the knees, or large sweaters to keep warm. I love the in-between-look moment, not the actual outfit that the performer will wear for the show.

I was as well inspired as well by the velours of my childhood, the one that my grandmother did so well and that so many women around me and in the world loved. My mother, aunts, cousins used to wear velours at home. It was a way of being chic and relaxed.

Pompom Athleisure

Photo: Pompom

How were you influenced by the brand your grandmother built?

Well, in so many different ways. I like the idea of being sophisticated and accessible—she was one of the first to do prêt-à-porter. I like the idea of not taking yourself too seriously. It is only clothing at the end of the day, not open-heart surgery—and what I love is the idea of clothes serving us rather than us fitting into clothes.

This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.

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