Remembering the French Fashion Designer Sonia Rykiel

Sonia Rykiel passed away at the age of 86. Today, we remember the iconoclast.

08.25.16

Fashion needs the women who are a little bit punk rock — women who are bold and subversive and considered in many settings to be “a lot.” It needs the women who are going to look at things sideways and consider what could be different. What could be better. What could be weird.

Sonia Rykiel was that woman.  Called the “Queen of Knitwear,” she took the average sweater and made it something to covet. She took color, pulled it apart and put it back together in her signature stripes. Her clothes were big and textured, sometimes sequined and pigment-saturated. They were fun. They were created for the multifaceted lives her customers led, live and will lead.

“She invented not just a style but an attitude,” said French President Francois Holland in BBC’s tribute to the designer, “a way of living and being, and offered a freedom of movement.”

Freedom of movement. Is that not exactly what all women crave, what so many designers hope to achieve, what photographers wish to capture and what illustrators beg for as they sit in their chair, hunched over a paper with pen, waiting for a breeze to make the garment move? What these bold, loud women know is that personality and vision can create the breeze for you. There’s no waiting for someone else’s wind.

Getting dressed in a way that expresses one’s self is a dance between wearer and garment. What Sonia Rykiel did — the legacy she will leave behind — is offer women a true partner in crime.

Feature photograph by Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images.
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