Sonia Rykiel urged women to be eccentric, seductive, mysterious, and to create their own style. She arrived (in every sense of the word) on Paris’ Left Bank in Saint-Germain-des-Prés in 1968. The neighborhood was a haven to artists from the world over and she quickly became its heart.
The movement she created was intimately linked to the ready-to-wear revolution taking place in 1970s Paris. She typified a new generation of designers who launched their own labels outside the established system of Haute Couture.
Sonia Rykiel innovated not just with the cut of her garments, but also with her philosophy of fashion. She collaborated with the popular French mail-order company Les 3 Suisses in 1977 (shock! horror!) and then released a renegade fragrance, 7ème sens, the following year. She designed sweaters closer to the body than they had ever been — a sweater had never been sexier. Declared “Queen of Knits” by Women’s Wear Daily in 1972, Sonia Rykiel became an international icon.
She rejected linings and embraced exposed seams, defiantly decreeing that the sweater should be worn against the naked skin. Her clothes were black; they were striped. She made clothes for women who wanted total freedom of movement: women who were explorers, lovers, and nomads. She called her philosophy “la Démode” (a contraction of déconstruction [deconstruction] and mode [fashion]), a neologism that expressed her will to fit the garment to the desire of the woman and not to the whims of the couturier.LaDémodewas her way of telling women to be eccentric, to create their own styles, and to adapt fashions to their own bodies, just as she had done for hers.
Rykiel is a family affair. It is the story of a mother, Sonia, and her daughter, Nathalie. The Heiress. Alongside her mother, Nathalie created the Rykiel Enfant line in 1984; in 1989 she launched Sonia Rykiel’s little sister, Inscription Rykiel, rechristened Sonia By Sonia Rykiel in 1999. Named Managing and Artistic Director of the brand in 1995, Nathalie led the House into uncharted territories, broadening the scope of its vision and amplifying its force.
Alongside her mother, Nathalie created the Rykiel Enfant line in 1984; in 1989 she launched Sonia Rykiel’s little sister, Inscription Rykiel, rechristened Sonia By Sonia Rykiel in 1999. Named Managing and Artistic Director of the brand in 1995, Nathalie led the House into uncharted territories, broadening the scope of its vision and amplifying its force.
Every bit her mother’s daughter, Nathalie organized the 40 year anniversary of Sonia Rykiel with the most sumptuous show imaginable, inviting 30 preeminent designers to celebrate Sonia. She collaborated with H&M in 2009 and inducted her own daughter, Sonia’s granddaughter, Lola, into the family dynasty. Mindful of the brand’s overseas development, Nathalie secured the support of the Fung Family in 2012, another family story, but set this time in Hong Kong. And so, the house of Rykiel remains very much a family affair.