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French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel dies

26 August 2016

WORDS BY Fashion Quarterly New Zealand

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Sonia Rykiel attends the 'Prix De L'Academie Du Mardi Gras 2012' - Culinary Awards at the Restaurant Benoit on February 21, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage)

French fashion designer, Sonia Rykiel, has died at age 86, following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Her daughter, Nathalie Rykiel said in a statement: My mother died at 05:00 this morning at her home in Paris from the effects of Parkinson’s.

French President Francois Hollande praised her as a “pioneer”.

“She invented not just a style but an attitude, a way of living and being, and offered a freedom of movement,” the president said in a tribute.

PARIS, FRANCE - FEBRUARY 21: Sonia Rykiel attends the 'Prix De L'Academie Du Mardi Gras 2012' - Culinary Awards at the Restaurant Benoit on February 21, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Foc Kan/WireImage)
Sonia Rykiel with daughter, Nathalie (left)

 

The sartorial icon, hailed as the ‘Queen of Knitwear’, made her breakthrough in 1962 with the launch of her now-classic ‘poor boy sweater’, a garment which had long sleeves and a shorter, fitted shape.

She would go on to head up her own label, and in 1968 her first ready-to-wear store was opened in the bohemian quarter of Paris’s Left Bank. Her fashion empire went on to include menswear, children’s clothing, accessories and perfumes.

Thanks to her unique sense of style, Rykiel garnered a long-list of celebrity fans, including actress Sarah Jessica Parker, singer Selena Gomez and models Miranda Kerr and Suki Waterhouse.

PARIS - OCTOBER 04: Sonia Rykiel (L) and Carijne Roitfeld attend the Sonia Rykiel Pret a Porter show as part of the Paris Womenswear Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2010 at Boutique Rykiel on October 4, 2009 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Sonia Rykiel and Carine Roitfeld attend the Sonia Rykiel Pret a Porter show.

 

The longstanding industry fixture was well-regarded among her peers. Designer Christian Lacroix called her the very essence of ‘French-ness’. He told WWD: “She epitomises a certain brand of ‘French-ness’ and Paris since the Sixties – free and elegant girls, with French style, French attitude and French freedom, both erotic and intellectual.”

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Karl Lagerfeld, creative director for Chanel lauded Rykiel for her approach to femininity and style. Of her early designs, he said: “They were so poetic, they looked like a Sarah Moon photo”.

According to her website, Rykiel “urged women to be eccentric, seductive, mysterious, and to create their own style”. Rykiel also authored several novels, and featured in the 1994 Robert Altman film, Pret-a-Porter.

Although a very private person, her battle with the illness was revealed in 2012, when her symptoms became too difficult to disguise, according to WWD.

As well as her daughter Nathalie, she leaves her son, Jean-Phillipe.

Below we take a look at the fashion industry’s tribute to the legendary fashion icon:

#RIP #SONIARYKIEL 🙏🏼 LEGENDS NEVER DIE YOU WILL ALWAYS BE REMEMBERED 👼🏼

A photo posted by Jeremy Scott (@itsjeremyscott) on

Au reviour and merci #soniarykiel your spirit will live on #rip

A photo posted by Lisa Eldridge (@lisaeldridgemakeup) on

Remembering #SoniaRykiel ❤️

A photo posted by Cindy Crawford (@cindycrawford) on

For pure joie de vivre, nothing beat a Sonia Rykiel show. Spring 2008. @soniarykiel @voguerunway

A photo posted by Nicole Phelps (@nicolephelps) on

I L❤️ED S🌹NIA…I will always M‼️SS H💃R #soniarykiel #alberandamigos #alberelbaz #rip🙏

A photo posted by Alber Elbaz (@alberelbaz8) on

Farewell to the grande dame of knit #SoniaRykiel

A photo posted by Zac Posen (@zacposen) on

RIP Sonia. A true legend. -J+L

A photo posted by Proenza Schouler (@proenzaschouler) on

RIP Sonia Rykiel. A true legend. (Portrait by Andy Warhol) #soniarykiel

A photo posted by RODARTE (@rodarte) on

Warhol, Eames , Rietveld and Sonia Rykiel rip

A photo posted by michelgaubert™ (@michelgaubert) on

Photos: Instagram.

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