Based in France, Sonia Rykiel is a fashion designer who was born in Neuilly, Paris (1930) to a Romanian father and Russian mother. Rewinding back to her childhood – Sonia was a tomboy raised in a rather bourgeois way. She lived in Paris along with her family and took care of her four younger sisters. The house was filled with girls and each daughter wanted her father’s attention. In an interview, she described her mother as seductive and attractive. Whereas, Sonia was a completely different person in nature and looks. When she was seventeen years old, Rykeil found a job in a Parisian clothing store where she had to dress the mannequins.
In 1953, she married Sam Rykeil who owned an apparel boutique. A few years later in 1962, when she was pregnant, Sonia wanted to wear a soft sweater but she couldn’t find one in the market. Hence, she contacted a supplier in Venice via her husband and designed sweaters by herself. Thereafter, she created her debut maternity outfits and Poor Boy Sweater, that was shown on the cover of ELLE magazine. Due to this, Sonia was crowned as the ‘knitting queen’ by the American public in 1967. The collection was sold through Laura, Sam’s label.
Since then, Sonia has continuously experimented in order to expand her fashion offers. Later on, she became the first to add seams on the exterior of a garment. She even printed words on the sweaters that she made. The color palette that she mostly chooses includes charcoal, dark blue, grey and beige. Moreover, just like most designers she also created a line of perfumes and the first one was named 7e Sens. In 1980, she was voted as being one of the ten most elegant females in the world. Her designs and vision about knitwear proved that it can follow any trend.
In 2009, Sonia Rykiel collaborated with H&M to launch an underwear collection, Sonia Rykiel pour H&M. In order to celebrate the partnership an event was held at Grand Palais in Paris. She also worked with Malcolm McLaren, a performer and impresario, on the song titled Who the Hell is Sonia Rykeil? In addition to this, Sonia made a guest appearance in Bill Cunningham’s New York, a 2010 movie.
Sonia’s daughter Nathalie is not just the creative director of her mother’s company, but the president as well. Nathalie started off as a model and then associated herself with the label. She knows everything about the company and knows how to make the right decisions for it. Sonia feels that her daughter is very talented and helps the company with her bright ideas.
For many women, Sonia has been a style idol however the designer feels that she doesn’t have any such icons to look up to. Sonia can be impressed by anyone. It could be a woman in a cafe or one on the street. In terms of personality, she loved the powerful character of Bette Davis in All about Eve, a drama from the 1950s.
Apart from this, Sonia has written various books including children’s stories and everything about fashion. She once said that if she hadn’t been a designer, she would have been an actress or a writer. Sonia has always been fond of books and writing. She writes every morning about a lot things related to fashion in a direct or indirect way.
When the designer was asked to describe herself in three words, she said that she is doubting, willing and irreverent.