She was the flame haired queen of knitwear that popularised Parisian chic around the world. Sonia Rykiel passed away at her home this morning after a 15 year long battle with Parkinson disease. 

Born in Paris on May 25, 1930, Rykiel became an established name on the Paris fashion scene when her eponymous first store opened in 1968 on Paris’s Left Bank. Her early clients included Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Hepburn. In 2009, she was awarded The Order of Légion d’Honneur in recognition of her 40 years of service in the French fashion industry. President Fracois Hollande has described her as a ‘Pioneer’.

Famous for her vixen red hair and saucy personality, Rykiel won fans with her feminine, witty sweaters, often striped, sequined or imprinted with words, that “offered women freedom of movement” – though she never learned to knit herself.

In 2008 she spoke to WWD about her success, she attributed most of it to not knowing what she was doing. She believed this gave her the freedom to do what she wanted, in her own style, she stated: “I was so violent, so authoritarian, only listening to what I wanted and myself. People loved me or hated me. Those who loved me, loved me a lot. The others, I didn’t bother with them very much”

Throughout her life she encouraged women to be unique, to be eccentric and to be true to themselves, A life lesson that will no doubt forge her legacy in the industry.



Published by Alexandra Keates