Who? Sonia Rykiel's rainbow-striped sweaters and sensual, body-hugging garments studded with rhinestones have made her the grande dame of knitwear since her debut collection in 1962. She deviated from the norm by making sweaters featuring inside-out seams and dresses without hems, and her 'demode' (de-fashion) philosophy encouraged women to adapt fashion to their own requirements. The Rykiel label epitomises Parisian chic.
How did it happen? Rykiel was born in Paris in 1930 and at 17 was working as a window-dresser at a Parisian textile shop. In 1962 the designer was pregnant with her first child and created a knitted maternity dress that received compliments from her friends. Inspired to create a functional yet feminine range of knitwear for women, Rykiel opened her first boutique in 1968 on the left bank on Rue de Grenelle, where the brand remains to this day. With input from her daughter Nathalie, the range has expanded to include ready-to-wear for men and women, children's wear, Sonia, her diffusion label, a cosmetics and fragrance line and an accessories collection.
What do the clothes look like? Her garments are figure-hugging with an undertone of girly kitsch and often come with a sprinkle of rhinestones and appliqued corsages. Her trademark rib sweaters are paired with flirtatious micro-knitted skirts and the designer has also diversified with an array of feminine chiffon dresses and black linear suits.
What does the designer have to say? 'I think I'm in love with what I am doing. Every day is something new. Getting old is terrible but if you keep your childish soul everything inspires you.'
Where are the clothes available? Sonia Rykiel is available at Sonia Rykiel boutiques in many cities including Hong Kong (The Landmark, Central; 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui; Pacific Place, Admiralty), Paris, London, New York and Los Angeles.