Sonia Rykiel parts company with fashion designer De Libran

Julie de Libran at the Sonia Rykiel Spring-Summer 2019 Ready-to-Wear collection fashion show in Paris last September (AFP Photo/Anne-Christine POUJOULAT ) (AFP/File)

Paris (AFP) - Troubled French fashion brand Sonia Rykiel has parted company with designer Julie de Libran and is looking for a new investor, it said Friday.

"The house announces the departure of Julie de Libran as artistic director," it said in a statement, adding that "management is working on defining the future organisation of the studio to carry on the development of the brand."

De Libran, who has previously worked for Louis Vuitton and Prada, had attempted to re-energise the label, whose founder Sonia Rykiel was known as the "Queen of Knits".

But the company is reported to have clocked up long-term losses, and De Libran was not able to turn that around despite quarter of its staff being laid off.

Her five years in charge coincided with the death of Rykiel in 2016 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

French-born De Libran told Women's Wear Daily, the fashion industry bible, that she was "shocked" at being asked to leave given her achievements.

Last year she unveiled the Pave handbag, inspired by the Paris cobblestones that student protesters threw at riot police during the May 1968 protests when Rykiel rose to fame.

The brand told AFP that the designer "had resigned" and praised her contribution to the brand.

"We are looking for a new investor and hoping to build on the heritage of the label and the expertise of the studio," a spokeswoman added.

The brand is controlled by the Hong Kong billionaires Victor and William Fung, whose Hardy Amies label went into administration in January.

It was the second time in a decade that the fashion house founded by the British Queen Elizabeth's former dressmaker had collapsed.