Praised by French President François Hollande as a pioneer of her era in the fashion industry, Sonia Rykiel, has passed away at age 86 after suffering from Parkinson’s disease for more than 10 years.
Nathalie Rykiel, management, artistic director and daughter of Sonia Rykiel, announced that around 5am Thursday morning at her home in Paris, her mother had passed away from the effects of Parkinson’s. She had previously revealed back in 2012 that she had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and had initially kept the condition private, but had shared it when the symptoms became too difficult to disguise.
Starting her career as a window dresser in 1948, Rykiel began her career in the industry with her designs in knitted maternity dresses. She made her breakthrough in 1962 with the ever-classic ‘Poor Boy sweater’, which continues to be one of her most iconic silhouettes to date.
Rykiel’s designs with knitwear were a shift away from the usual silhouettes that restricted women’s movements, making her designs extremely liberating and offering freedom of movement. Rykiel had continuously urged women to be eccentric, seductive, mysterious, and to create their own style.
Jean Paul Gaultier has expressed his adoration for Rykiel, hailing her as a revolutionary designer, liberating women and their fashion, as well as giving everyone in the industry a style to follow. The designer made a name for herself in the 1970’s when she created clothing that was women-friendly during the era of the French feminism wave and made herself well-known with clients such as Catherine Denuve and Audrey Hepburn. She had also collaborated in interior designs for some of Paris’s most luxurious hotels and had published ‘The Red Lips’ too in 1996, which reflected her design process.
Her legacy lives on, with messages of condolences pouring it from all over around the world. Her fiery red hair and bright personality will never be forgotten as the fashion industry mourns the loss of a legend.