A love letter to one of our favourite fashion designers.
Yesterday we received the sad news that legendary Parisian fashion designer Sonia Rykiel had passed away. The designer, famed for her colourful knitwear and free spirited attitude, shook up the fashion scene when she opened her first store on the Left Bank in 1968 and has continued to have a huge impact on what we wear ever since.
Rykiel’s first dalliance with designing came about while she was pregnant. Unable to find something to suit her bump she created a tight-fit jumper – a style completely revolutionary for its time. Dubbed the ‘Poor Boy Sweater’ it went down so well with friends that she started selling it in her husband’s shop. The sweater made the cover of ELLE, Audrey Hepburn bought one in every colour, and the rest they say is history.
In the 60s and 70s Rykiel pioneered her very own take on ‘Parisian Chic’ offering mix and match separates and knitwear pieces that were colourful, daring and totally ahead of their time. Rykiel was on a mission to bring a sense of fun back into fashion and her use of cheeky slogans, sparkling lurex and the now-iconic Rykiel stripe overhauled women’s wardrobes. It was not just her clothes that made a lasting impact, Rykiel was famed for her memorable catwalk shows. Forgoing the traditional often sombre show format she instead created a party atmosphere with models laughing, dancing and actually looking like they were enjoying themselves.
Although Rykiel stepped down from the helm of her eponymous brand in 2007 (she was replaced by daughter Nathalie and more recently Julie de Libran), the brand’s DNA lives on to this day.
Loved by everyone from Brigitte Bardot to Carrie Bradshaw, her designs provide endless inspiration for any fashion fan – here are some of the best bits…
By Elizabeth Bennett