Iconic fashion designer Sonia Rykiel died at 5am this morning at her home in Paris, age 86. The French designer, who began her career as a window dresser in 1948, and opened her first stand-alone store in 1968, was revered for her relaxed knitwear and cheerful stripes.
French President Francois Hollande has called the grande dame of fashion “a pioneer”. And indeed she was, urging women on her website to be “eccentric, seductive, mysterious and to create their own style.” She began designing while pregnant with her first child. Unable to find a maternity dress she liked, she created a pullover, which wound up on the cover of Elle. Her 1962 “poor boy sweater”, with its shrunken fit and fine ribbing, became an iconic design in the 1960s. Rykiel was also famed for developing an inside-out stitching technique and no-hem finishes. Brigitte Bardot and Audrey Hepburn were among her celebrity customers. During her lifetime Rykiel also wrote several novels and appeared in the 1994 movie Pret-A-Porter.
Diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1997, the designer only revealed her condition in 2012. She died of the effects of the disease, revealed her daughter Nathalie, who is currently managing and artistic director of the Sonia Rykiel label. She also has a son Jean-Philippe.
Her AW16 collection is a stunning riot of sumptuous textures and fluid shapes, with each piece offering a hit of classicism but with a contemporary twist. These are items to buy now and love forever.