Sonia Rykiel, the eponymous designer of the French brand best known for Parisian chic and whimsically printed knits, passed away Thursday at age 86. The French designer succumbed to Parkinson’s disease after battling the affliction for well over a decade.
She can best be credited for re-shaping the way in which women approached dressing in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Amidst the turmoil of the Paris student protests, Rykiel went on to open an in-store shop at the famous Galeries Lafayette in Paris. Soon her clothes were picked up by major retailers like Henri Bendel and Bloomingdale's, WWD reported.
Rykiel pioneered "Parisian Chic," ready-to-wear separates, sequin-encrusted dresses and fitted, ribbed “poor-boy” sweaters, many of which were emblazoned with phrases or graphic motifs and stripes.
Like most major fashion brands, the Sonia Rykiel label went on to expand into children’s wear, footwear, accessories and a diffusion line, Sonia by Sonia Rykiel.
In 1995, Rykiel’s daughter Nathalie Rykiel became the brand’s managing and artistic director and stepped into the role of creative director the following year. Sonia Rykiel continued to work closely with her namesake label until she retired in 2009. Her daughter, Nathalie, took over as the brand’s president in 2007. Vogue reported that Sonia Rykiel continued to act as honorary president for the brand.
Rykiel wrote throughout her design career and penned the book “N’Oubliez Pas Que Je Joue,” or, “Don’t forget that I’m acting.” In the book Rykiel admits to having Parkinson’s.
When looking back on her illustrious career, WWD reported Rykiel said, “I think there is a future for a house like ours with a way of acting that’s different. I love this métier. It’s what makes me happiest.”
The brand is now helmed by Julie de Libran.
In the wake of the designer’s death, here are 10 of Sonia Rykiel’s best looks from over the years.