An ode to Sonia Rykiel

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Fashion, Featured Items, Paris


Last night Sonia Rykiel passed away. The Parisian designer famous for her colourful knitwear designs died at the age of 86. Ever since 1995 she suffered from Parkinson’s disease, something she revealed in 2012 when she stepped down as creative director of her eponymous label.

Born and raised in Paris Rykiel started her career in fashion in 1948 as a storefront designer, but eventually launched her own collections of self knitted clothing. In 1968 she opened her first store on Rue de Grenelle; the beginning of an international fashion house.


Sonia Rykiel is remembered by many as a fashion pioneer. Along with Chloé, her label pioneered the créateur movement in France. She became famous for her loose fitting sweaters, breaking sixties fashion rules of corsets and bras. Fashion should be comfortable and fun, was the flame-haired designer’s message and Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Hepburn, just a few of Sonia Rykiel’s famous clients, agreed.

“Design job fell on me. I didn’t want to do it. It was an accident. For the first 10 years I said, “Tomorrow I’m stopping.””

Through the years the brand Sonia Rykiel expanded with clothes for men, kids, accessories and fragrances. Rainbow stripes, massive fur wraps and culottes became part of the brand’s signature. In 2009 the label collaborated with H&M. That same year she was awarded The Order of Légion d’Honneur in recognition of her 40 years of service in the French fashion industry.


In 2012 Nathalie Rykiel, Sonia’s daughter, took over the role of the brand’s creative director while Sonia still kept serving as honorary president and attending the label’s shows, which always ended in a big celebration on the catwalk (see some catwalk highlights in our gallery below). Since 2014 Julie de Libran has been Sonia Rykiel’s artistic director.

Sonia Rykiel, 1930 – 2016

Sonia Rykiel Catwalk Fashion Show Womenswear Paris FW2013

March 2, 2013 by  
Filed under Fashion, Paris

It was Geraldo da Conceicao’s debut collection for Sonia Rykiel, since the brand got it’s new owners Fung Brands Ltd. last year. For his first collection he managed to mix Sonia’s signatures with his own skills and preferences. Knitted suits with playful buttons opened the show, followed by a selection of knitted dresses that fully breathed Rykiel. The next black leather, more architectural pieces seemed more of Geraldo’s personal thing yet they were quickly followed up by more knitwear. Casual pieces worn by bra-less models and business chic designs like a baby pink suit jacket and a baby blue ensemble. A trio of printed tunics perhaps looked a bit out of place, yet the finale sweaters (with kisses and flowers) brought back that joyful Rykiel feeling. It might take a while before Geraldo da Conceicaso has fully found the right direction he wants to go with the brand, but he’s on the right track.

Sonia Rykiel Catwalk Fashion Show Paris SS2012

October 2, 2011 by  
Filed under Fashion, Featured Items, Paris, womenswear

On a bright yellow catwalk Sonia Rykiel’s models appeared in looks more subtle than in the past few collection. It started with creamcolored skirts, knitted tops and dresses, which all had a black strip attached to them. They were followed by some lace items (a suit, a pair of pants). Then some pops of yellow, nude, orange and ochre came on. All pretty and perfect for spring.

The collection was mostly the work of her daughther Nathalie and the new creative director April Chrichton, but Sonia made damn sure her signature look was portrayed. The Sonia style was visible in the knitwear, the stripes and the choice of color. So nothing to unexpected, but just the right amount of change to make women hit the stores again.

Sonia Rykiel Catwalk Fashion Show Paris FW2011

March 5, 2011 by  
Filed under Fashion, Featured Items, Paris, womenswear

Again a happy end at the Sonia Rykiel show, and finally some color after quite some dark colored shows we’ve seen  elsewhere in Paris.

Please enjoy the pictures for now, our review will follow later.

Sonia Rykiel Catwalk Fashion Show Paris SS2011

October 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Fashion, Featured Items, Paris, womenswear

The weather in Paris hasn’t been very good the last couple of days. But as it was raining outside, inside the Sonia Rykiel fashion show it felt like a sauna (a little smelly sauna actually). Yet despite the smell we enjoyed the typical Sonia Rykiel show full of colors, stripes and knitwear.

The show had a seventies vibe and felt very happy due to the bright shades (pink, red, yellow, turquoise) and of course the smiling models with their frizzy hair.

Just like last season the designs (the men’s suits, the jumpsuits and the knitted dresses) were very oversized. Although some silhouette was created by what looked like stiff karate-belts in all kinds of brights. Other accessories were clutches, ultra large bags and hats with playful tassels.

A few detailed printed and sequined jumpsuits, shown towards the end, seemed the only new items Nathalie and Sonia came up with for spring. Even the finally, with groups of models appearing on the runway acting all crazy, was nothing unexpected, but it sure was fun to watch and led to some beautiful runway pictures.

Sonia Rykiel Catwalk Fashion Show Paris FW2010

March 7, 2010 by  
Filed under Fashion, Featured Items, Paris, womenswear

Enough of the frizzy red wigs at Sonia Rykiel! This time the models had cute pony tails and large pom-pom headbands. The models were happy about it. At least, they all put on a smile at the catwalk.

Sonia Rykiel herself proved she’s not involved too much anymore by sitting front row, next to Beth Ditto. Her daughter Nathalie had to do it all on her own. And she did a very good job.

She let Dutch model Mirte Maas (we say: excellent choice!) open the show. Mirte wore an XXX-oversized woolen suit and was able to make it work. The cozy knitwear that followed, had soft colors like beige, off-white and different hues of light brown. (What a relief after all the bright Sonia Rykiel for H&M colors we had to look at for months.)

There were dresses with knitted sleeves and woolen cardigans, worn with big belts. A long bright red coat with a huge safety pin looked very comfy. We saw pant suits, fur coats and military jackets. On a lot of the pants a diagonal shoulder strap was attached. It didn’t really hold up the pants, it was just a nice detail. In some designs the shape of the breasts was accentuated by the fabric. Yet it made the models’ tiny breasts look even smaller, but maybe that was the intention.

Halfway the show a pair of cycling pants, left behind from the summer collection, was shown. It was worn over a pair of white tights. Soon after that some colors were introduced. Three outfits had collared stripes all over them and a few other designs came in kobalt blue matched with black. Luckily the collection then turned back to neutral shades. Skirts, dresses and jumpsuits came by in satin, chiffon and a transparent sort of knitwear.

So according to Sonia Rykiel the trends for next winter are: natural colors, oversized suits, suitpants, large woolen dresses or cardigans and ladylike details. We can hardly wait!

The finale was, as always with Sonie Rykiel, a big party. All models came up in light-shaded marabou coats and dresses. They were smiling, clapping and dancing and seemed to have the time of their lives. And Nathalie Rykiel…, she just partied along.

Catwalktrends ss2010: Headbands

January 12, 2010 by  
Filed under accessories, beauty, Fashion, Milan, New York, Paris, womenswear

Although many designers gave their models a natural look and let their hair hang loose, some of them experimented with the model’s hairdo’s. We saw braids, we saw curls and we saw headbands!

Stefano Pilati created the most outstanding headband-look for Yves Saint Laurent. His girls wore the zig zag headbands you may remember wearing when you were a kid. Yet his models didn’t just wear one of them; it must have been at least ten headbands per model.

Then we had the Hermes models who wore wide headbands, some with a snake print. In the Bottega Veneta show all girls wore the same white ones. At Lacoste the models got a braided white version or a colorful striped one. And Michael Kors’s models showed some transparent plastic ones that matched with his bracelets.

Marc Jacobs of course used his headbands with bow and Sonia Rykiel had the black flat circular ‘hats’ attached to hers. Sienna Miller gave her girls a turban-looking headband for her Twenty8Twelve show.

Trends ss2010: fantastic plastic

November 19, 2009 by  
Filed under Fashion, Milan, New York, Paris, womenswear

How can you protect yourself from the rain and still look sexy?

Zac Posen, Sonia Rykiel, Frankie Morello, D Squared and others gave us the answer: you just wear a transparent plastic raincoat. In this way you’re still showing the great outfit you’re wearing underneath and your silhouette stays visible too.

For next spring transparent plastic was used by several different designers. Isn’t it typical that at least four designers came up with a see-through raincoat, independently of each other? At all four shows these raincoats also popped up out of nowhere and didn’t really connect to the rest of the clothes in the collections.
But the raincoat wasn’t the only transparent plastic item; there were bags and shoes as well, for example at Prada. D Squared and Charles Anastase both had transparent bags too.

Michael Kors used the plastic for his bathing suits and bracelets. Out of everything we saw the most fantastic plastic was made by Frankie Morello. He came up with a chique Chanel-looking plastic jacket, which had collar and cuffs made out of fabric.

Tess van Daelen

Trends ss2010: fashionably exposed

November 11, 2009 by  
Filed under Fashion, General, Milan, New York, Paris, womenswear

Together with the nudes there’s a a lot of semi-nudity for next summer-season too.

Many designers worked with sheer and airy fabrics. Through these light fabrics the models’ skins were visible most of the time. At Giambattista Valli, YSL, Michael Kors, Sonia Rykiel and House of Holland the models’ breasts could clearly be seen through their designs.

Almost every piece of clothing came by in a transparent version. Roberto Cavalli even designed a few see-through pants. Valentino’s shiny, ruffled and transparent materials were made into super sexy party dresses. And Donnatella Versace created a few sheer evening gowns in pastel shades.

The sheer fabrics were often layered or draped. Viktor & Rolf used multiple transparent layers, becoming non-transparent by this application. Riccardo Tisci beautifully draped his sheer fabrics for Givenchy.

Apart from the delicate ultra-thin fabrics we could see some body-exposing nettings (Jil Sander, Sonia Rykiel, Just Cavalli) as well.

So, for next season don’t be afraid to show some skin. And if you are, just follow the example of Viktor & Rolf and wear lots of layers.

Tess van Daelen

Trends ss2010: goddess glamour

November 10, 2009 by  
Filed under Fashion, General, London, Milan, New York, Paris, womenswear

Next season shoulders are getting some extra attention in several different ways. We’ve seen shoulderpads, shoulder cut-outs,  adorned shoulders and one-shoulder dresses.

Many designers gave their own interpretation to the one-shoulder dress. Most often they put all their creativity in the dress’s one shoulder. They gave that one shoulder lots of layers, ruffles and draping so it really stood out and made up for the missing one.

During the Iceberg fashion-show shoulders were emphasized in many ways. The colorful one-shoulder dresses seemed to be the highlight of the show. At Lanvin the shoulders got a mix of ruffles and layers.

Sonia Rykiel showed a one-shoulder dress with bows all the way to the top.The shoulder on one of Viktor & Rolf’s designs (made out of hundreds of layers of tulle) reached as high as the model’s head.

Most one-shoulder designs looked sexy, summery and a bit Roman/Greek.

Tess van Daelen

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