the designers

Fashion Designer Sonia Rykiel was born in 1930. At the age of 17, she was employed to dress the window displays in a Parisian textile store.

Sonia was married to the owner of a boutique which sold elegant clothing, but in 1962 she just couldn't find any soft sweaters to wear when she was pregnant. So she used a supplier to her husband from Venice, to design her own. The sweater went back 7 times for alterations before she was satisfied with it. This first creation was called the Poorboy Sweater, and she started selling it from her husbands label "Laura. It made the cover of Elle fashion magazine, and brought her fame. She later became the first designer to put seams on the outside of a garment, and to print words on her sweaters.

In 1968, she opened her first boutique. Rykiel has written many books, including an A to Z of fashion, and a collection of children’s stories.

In 1980 she was voted one of the world's 10 most elegant women. In October 2001, she showed her Spring 2002 collection at the Louvre in Paris, proving that nothing has changed in almost 40 years she has been designing. Her slim fitted sweaters, her love for scrawling random words across a chest or down an arm endures, as does her signature stripes. Even though she is in her 70's, Sonia is no prude. In her latest collection, she has included sex toys, amusing underwear and vibrators to signify the freedom of women. Her daughter Nathalie collaborates with her now, on all her fashion activities.

Sonia and her daughter Nathalie have decided to bring Paris to New York. In February 2005 Henri Bendel launched an in-store shop for the Sonia Rykel Woman line. It will almost certainly be as successful as in France.

The Look

Specializing in knitwear, Rykiel is a first rate designer, creating elegant, fluid garments in soft wools, jersey, angor and mohair. A sensual outline is important to her garments and many are figure-hugging. She has also experimented with seams (reversing them to the outside) and with asymmetrical cuts. Her Lurex knitwear is sophisticated enough for evening. The Americans call her the "Queen of Knitwear". She is the one who encouraged Robert Altman to make his ready-to-wear film "Pret-a-Porter. In particular, she favours long clinging sweaters or small cropped pullovers, large rolled-back cuffs and long shawls. Her outer wear often includes voluminous cape-like garments. Her colours are predominantly beige, grey, dark blue and charcoal.

Who Wears It

Carrie Bradshaw


1979 Septieme Sens (7th sense)
1993 Sonia Rykiel Parfum (W)
1998 L'Eau de Sonia Rykiel
1999 Rykiel Homme (M)
2000 Rykiel Rose (W)
2003 Rykiel Woman (W)

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