Thursday, September 1, 2016

Remembering Sonia Rykiel 1930-2016

In the era where high-profile designers jump from one storied house to another it's hard for any label to maintain a sense of consistency. Despite being majority-owned by Hong Kong based First Heritage Brands, a division of the Fung Company, the integrity of Sonia Rykiel, the brand, remained steadfast; its design mission true to Sonia Rykiel, the woman.

As a knitwear designer citing Rykiel in your top 5 all-time influencers is a given. Sure others pop onto the scene and we are seduced by their fresh perspective but to create a legacy house, especially one grounded in knitwear, is rare; Missoni and Pringle being the only others which come to mind. Like Chanel, Armani, Burberry, and Ralph Lauren the roots of Rykiel's vision run deep and even though times and creative leaders have and will inevitably change for these houses, there is an identity Rykiel has created which will always be respected no matter who helms the ship.

Among insiders we talk about things like "codes" and "handwriting" to evaluate the strength of a brand. While she didn't invent the "poor-boy sweater," Rykiel will forever be inextricably linked to it just as Halston is with the wrap dress (not DVF.)  It is from this one humble item that her identity was formed and from which a legend was established. She also owned stripes in a manner totally different from the Americans and is perhaps the inadvertent pioneer of today's Athleisure movement. Rykiel always stood for comfort and ease but she did it with that French joie de vivre; coyly flirtatious and powerfully feminine. Trompe L'oeil intarsias, bows, sequins, and cats! were also hallmarks of the brand. Her children's line is hands-down the cutest ever and her show finales were always a boisterous celebration.

The house of Rykiel will continue to be lead by her daughter Nathalie as President and designed by Julie de Libran.

It is impossible to encapsulate Rykiel's vast body of work with just a few pictures but these are some of the ones I looked at today and liked.

Fall 2007
Fall 2008 Ad Campaign
Fall 2011
Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Resort 2015
Sonia by Sonia Rykiel Resort 2015
Fall 2016
Spring 2002

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