Sonia Rykiel – The queen of knitting


Sonia Rykiel was a French fashion designer known for her innovative and colorful knitwear creations. She is considered one of the most influential and original designers of the 20th century and an icon of Parisian fashion.

Sonia Rykiel was born in Paris in 1930 to a Romanian watchmaker and a Russian mother. She grew up in a wealthy family and became interested in art and literature at an early age. She studied at the École du Louvre, but dropped out to work as a window dresser. In 1951 she married Sam Rykiel, an owner of a boutique called Laura, which offered elegant clothes for women.

Sonia Rykiel started her career as a fashion designer out of necessity. She was pregnant with her first child and couldn’t find suitable maternity wear. So she designed a sweater herself from soft knitted fabric that flattered her belly and looked fashionable at the same time. The sweater became a great success and was worn by many prominent women such as Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve. Sonia Rykiel called it the “Poor Boy Sweater” and made it her trademark.

Sonia Rykiel founded her own brand in 1968 and opened her first boutique on Rue de Grenelle in Paris. She revolutionized the fashion industry with her unconventional and creative knitwear designs that featured slim silhouettes, bright colors, graphic patterns, inside seams, unhemmed edges and humorous details such as lettering or rhinestones. She also invented new knitting techniques such as the “inside-out” style, where the threads were visible on the outside, or the “deconstructed” style, where garments appeared intentionally unfinished or torn.

Sonia Rykiel was not only a fashion designer, but also a writer, a feminist and an activist. She published several books, including novels, essays and children’s books. She championed women’s rights and supported the 1968 student movement. She was also a passionate collector of art and antiques and a friend of many artists such as Andy Warhol, Robert Doisneau and Jean Cocteau.

Sonia Rykiel died in 2016 at the age of 86 as a result of Parkinson’s disease. She left behind a fashion empire, which is now run by her daughter Nathalie Rykiel. Sonia Rykiel will be remembered as one of the most important fashion designers of all time. She made fashion not only more beautiful, but also more free and joyful.

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