Sonya Rykiel is a synonymous with Paris. Born in the city in 1930, she went on the encapsulate Parisian style with her chic fashion line. As an expectant mother , she had discover that there were no sweaters available that were soft and flexible enough for her to wear through her pregnancy, so in 1962, she created her own line of knitwear. This was so successful that she opened her first boutique in that momentous Parisian year , 1968. And in their own way, Sonya Rykiel designs were revolutionary.
Her flaterring knits often in what to become her trademark stripes – symbolized liberation for women’s bodies from the stiff silhouette of the previous decade. She also increased the sex appeal of knits, freed from linings and hems, her dresses and sweaters were like second skins for the womens who wore them. Sonya Rykiel has continued to build her very own French Empire since the 1970. She recognized the wisdom of establishing a beauty line early on, launching a perfume in 1978 and cosmetics in 1987.
Completely independent, Sonya Rykiel business is very much a family affair. Husband Simon Bernstein is her business partner and daughter Nathalie Rykiel has been involved in the company since 1975. With such support, Sonya Rykiel has the freedom to do other things. Today Madame Sonya Rykiel is something of a French institution. She has written novels, decorated hotels, sung a duet with Malcom McLaren and even has a rose named after her. And the accolades keep on coming. Sonya Rykiel has been awarded an Oscar for Fashion Group International and in December 2001, the French government named her Commandeur de I’Ordre National du Merite. Now in her eighties, the grande dame of French fashion shows no sings of giving up.
Her creations are impossible sexy, impossible shiny and impossible decadent, and in Sprin /Summer 2009, Sonia celebrated 40 years in the fashion game with a surprise tribute catwalk show organized by daughter Nathalie. Out came a procession of 30 girls rocking out tribute dresses designed by Sonya Rykiel friends, peers and fashion designers including Martin Margiela, Jean Paul Gaultier, Karl Lagerfeld, Alber Elbaz in a breathless ode to brilliant flame haired queen of knits. Long may she reign.