Born in 1930 of Russian and Romanian ancestry, Sonia Rykiel founded the House and the brand that bears her name in Paris in 1968. She married Sam Rykiel, the owner of a clothing boutique in Paris’s 14th arrondissement. There, she knitted her first sweaters. More close-fitting, more modern, and highlighting the silhouette, they quickly attracted a new clientele. So Sonia Rykiel made herself a name in stitching, adopting bright colours, and a new style, during the momentum of the advancing women’s emancipation in society. In 1960, one of her creations made the cover of Elle magazine. Audrey Hepburn wore her multi-coloured sweaters.
In 1968, the first Sonia Rykiel shop opened its doors on the Rue de Grenelle. In 1970, the designer was labelled the "Queen of Knits", by the American magazine Women's Wear Daily. She created mini-sweaters and played with proportions. Sonia Rykiel marked the fashion of the 1970s by her freedom of tone, her love for fashion that does not restrain women, through the invention of seams on the outside of the garment (1974) that say a lot about her liberated taste, the "unhemmed” look and lapels in the name of a new philosophy of fashion: "out of style.” Sonia Rykiel thus anticipated the innovations of future creators, with very conceptual clothes, such as Japanese or Antwerp.
Sonia Rykiel also pioneered work using black from end of the 60s. She upset the bourgeois elegance and created a style whose key words were stripes, lace, rhinestones, and messages written on sweaters, like poetic and literary slogans. The year 1992 saw the creation of Rykiel accessories. The style is forever cheeky, still valid and yet timeless. Today, the Sonia Rykiel House is represented by her daughter, Nathalie.
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