Sonia Rykiel - Biography
Sonia Rykiel née Flis (b. 25 May 1930, Paris, France) is a French fashion designer.
Ethnically a Polish-Romanian Jew, Sonia Rykiel was born in Neuilly a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, France, the eldest of five daughters of a Polish mother and a Romanian father. At the age of 17, she was employed to dress the window displays in a Parisian textile store. In 1953 Sonia married Sam Rykiel, owner of a boutique selling elegant clothing. In 1962 she just couldn't find any soft sweaters to wear when she was pregnant. So she used a supplier to her husband from Venice to design her own.
Sonia Rykiel created her first maternity dresses and tiny sweater. The sweater is her symbol and she was crowned "Queen of Knits" by the Americans in 1967. The sweater went back 7 times for alterations before she was satisfied with it. From then, she has experimented with seams inside out, took away the hem and lining, and created a range of fragrances of which '7e Sens' was the first. This first creation was called the Poor boy Sweater, and she started selling it from her husbands label "Laura". It made the cover of ELLE fashion magazine, and brought her fame.
She later became the first designer to put seams on the outside of a garment, and to print words on her sweaters. In particular, she favours long clinging sweaters or small cropped pullovers, large rolled-back cuffs and long shawls. Her colours are usually beige, grey, dark blue and charcoal.
Rykiel has written many books, including an A to Z of fashion, and a collection of children’s stories.
In 1980 she was voted one of the world's 10 most elegant women. She proved that knitwear can follow any trend. Rykiel also hit the current idea of the big soft fun fur done as a huge bubble of colour, in her case baby pink, purple knitted fox or teal-blue Mongolian lamb. During Paris Fashion Week in October 2003, Sonia Rykiel showed her own collection for next spring. There were also gorgeous ruffled dresses in vintage floral and polka dot prints and smart houndstooth coats.
Sonia and her daughter Nathalie have decided to bring Paris to New York. In February 2005 Henri Bendel launched an in-store shop for the Sonia Rykiel Woman line. It will almost certainly be as successful as in France. There are three Sonia Rykiel boutiques in the U.S. and they are in Boston, New York and Guam.
In December 2009, Sonia Rykiel and H&M introduced a collection of underwear, "Sonia Rykiel pour H&M", the first of two masstige operations with the Swedish retailer (the second became available in February 2010). A prestigious event was held at the Grand Palais in Paris to celebrate the event.
Rykiel collaborated with impresario and performer Malcolm McLaren on the song "Who the Hell is Sonia Rykiel?" on McLaren's 1995 album Paris.
She is seen briefly in the 2010 film "Bill Cunningham's New York"
- Jean-Philippe Rykiel
- Sonia Rykiel's website
- Sonia Rykiel profile Voguepedia
- Parachute and combat inspiration in the Spring 2003 collection