Sonia Rykiel by Maison Martin Margiela
I meant to post this earlier (like last year!) but seeing how Sundance Channel keeps showing it over and over again, now is as good a time as any.
Readers of this blog will know how much I adore Sonia Rykiel. Here is a woman that entered the world of fashion as a fluke, simply looking to design pieces for herself and ended up being at the helm of her own fashion house that just celebrated its 40th anniversary. For those dismissing designers that haven’t been formally trained, Sonia is known as the “Queen of Knits” and she can’t even knit, nor has she ever gone to school for fashion design.
Sonia Rykiel photographed by Andy Warhol
The truth is, in the early 60s while she was pregnant, she got a hankering for a really comfy and soft sweater. Back in those days, those were hard to find. In fact, most of them had lining! After convincing her shop owner husband, San Rykiel, to outsource her design to Italy and following several alterations, this particular sweater became known as the “Poor Boy” and the rest is history. What she did was super innovative: she was the first one to turn the seams inside out, really showing the structure of the garment. From there, she built an empire that is Sonia Rykiel.
the “Poor Boy” sweater
“First I made a dress because I was pregnant and I wanted to be the most beautiful pregnant woman. Then I made a sweater because I wanted to have one that wasn’t like anyone else’s.” — Sonia Rykiel
Sonia Rykiel by Jean Paul Gaultier
In 2008, the brand Sonia Rykiel celebrated its 40th anniversary during Paris Fashion Week where Ms. Rykiel herself was honoured in a surprise tribute by some of the greatest designers working today. We are talking everyone: Karl Lagerfeld, Alber Elbaz, Jean Paul Gaultier, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, Martin Margiela (my favourite), Thomas Maier, Missoni, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren, Stella McCartney, DVF and Rodarte, just to name a few.
Sonia Rykiel by Karl Lagerfeld
While filming their ongoing series The Day Before, Sundance Channel was there to film it all, and it’s spectacular! Watching her daughters scramble around planning the surprise party while trying to finish the collection and organize the show at the same time is priceless. Watching Sonia Rykiel work is riveting: always maintaining the unmistakable Sonia charm and a great sense of humour and fun. Seeing the couture master Jean Paul Gaultier fan over her like a school boy is beyond amazing.
Sonia Rykiel by Stella McCartney
And finally watching her tear up as she watched (in the audience for the first time) Sonias after Sonias walk down the runway was so incredibly emotional — I cried like a baby. To have a career like that and to demand such respect… Inspirational! It would have been truly a great moment to witness.
Sonia Rykiel by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac
And that hair! Incredible!