Pioneering French Designer Sonia Rykiel Dies at 86

Pioneering French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel died yesterday at the age of 86. Often dubbed as the ultimate ‘queen of knitwear’, she revolutionized the fashion industry with her visionary ideas and runway shows, as well as with her contemporary perspective on women’s wear that were and will always be celebrated worldwide.

Pioneering French Designer Sonia Rykiel Dies at 86

Rykiel, who had been battling with Parkinson’s disease for more than 15 years, never lost her enterprising spirit and positive attitude towards the world, officially confirming her condition in 2012.

“My mother died at 5 am this morning at her home in Paris from the effects of Parkinson’s,” declared Sonia Ryliel’s daughter Nathalie Thursday morning, and ever since she released the announcement, people from all around the world have gathered to mourn such a tragic loss.

French president Francis Holland also announced her death with an official statement yesterday, mourning the loss of a woman that, with her works, helped the women’s liberation movement grow and break through the society.

“She was a free woman and a pioneer”, said Holland, “She invented not only a style, but also an attitude, a way of living and of being, and gave women a freedom of movement. Passionate about culture, she did not conceive of fashion without the arts, which were always present in her creations. Her style is known across the world. It will remain a symbol of the remarkable alliance of colour and the natural, of fluidity and light.”

We also would like to acknowledge the incredibly talented fashion designer’s importance not only for the fashion industry, but for our culture and society too, celebrating the innovating and liberating steps she took throughout her long, remarkable career.

Born as Sonia Flis in Paris in 1930, Sonia Rykiel began designing maternity clothes in 1961, the relaxed lines of which really helped in shaping her signature style and designs in the years to come. She began selling her pieces at her (then divorced) husband Sam Rykiel’s Laura fashion boutique since the early Sixties, and never stopped creating and finding new ways to change what’s conventionally regarded as feminine ever since.

She soon understood that women indeed liked wearing highly comfortable, yet fancy clothes, and began thus focusing on knitwear and cozy lines, adding visionary touches here and there, such as seams turned inside outs and straps incorporated inside the coats.

By 1972, she was already dubbed as “one of the 12 top designers in the European ready-to-wear,” and by 2009 she was awarded the Order of Légion d’Honneur due to her incredible contribution to the French fashion industry.

She was deeply estimated by the world’s leading fashion designers too, and her legacy will forever play a huge role in the lives of many.

Sonia Rykiel Company is currently led by CEO Eric Langon, with Julie Libran working as the label’s creative director since 2014.

Photo courtesy of Vogue

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