25 May 1930
Sonia Rykiel was born in Neuilly, a commune in the western suburbs of Paris, the eldest of five daughters of a Russian mother and a Romanian father. Her father was a watchmaker. At the age of 17, she was employed to dress the window displays in a Parisian textile store. In 1953, Sonia married Sam Rykiel, owner of a boutique selling elegant clothing. They had two children, but eventually divorced.
Rykiel revealed that she has been afflicted with Parkinson's Disease for many years.
In 1962, unable to find soft sweaters to wear during her pregnancy, she used one of her husband's suppliers from Venice to design her own sweaters. Rykiel thereafter created her first maternity dresses and a tiny sweater, called the Poor Boy Sweater, which she started selling from her husband's label "Laura". The Poor Boy Sweater made the cover of ELLE fashion magazine, and brought Rykiel fame; because of it, she was crowned "Queen of Knits" by the Americans in 1967.
She later became the first designer to put seams on the outside of a garment, and to print words on her sweaters. In particular, she favours long clinging sweaters or small cropped pullovers, large rolled-back cuffs and long shawls. Her color palette usually features beige, grey, dark blue, and charcoal. She has also created a range of fragrances of which '7e Sens' was the first.
In 1980, Rykiel was voted one of the world's 10 most elegant women. Rykiel also hit upon the trend of big, soft, fun fur done as a huge bubble of color - in her case baby pink, purple knitted fox or teal-blue Mongolian lamb. During Paris Fashion Week in October 2003, Sonia Rykiel showed her own collection for next spring which included ruffled dresses in vintage floral and polka dot prints, and houndstooth coats.
In December 2009, Rykiel and H&M introduced a collection of underwear, "Sonia Rykiel pour H&M", the first of two masstige operations with the Swedish retailer (the second became available in February 2010). An event was held at the Grand Palais in Paris to celebrate the event.
In February 2005, Henri Bendel launched an in-store shop for the Sonia Rykiel Woman line.
In 2012, Fung Brands, an investment company backed by Hong Kong billionaires Victor and William Fung, acquired 80 percent of Sonia Rykiel, with the Rykiel family retaining a 20 percent stake.
Rykiel has written several books, including an A to Z of fashion, and a collection of children’s stories.
Rykiel made brief appearances in Robert Altman's "Prêt-a-Porter" (1994) and the 2010 film Bill Cunningham's New York.
- "Left of centre: Celebrating 40 years of Sonia Rykiel". The Independent (UK). Retrieved 22 December 2010.
- Champenois, Sabrina (4 December 2008). "L’impératrice rousse". Libération (in French). Retrieved 24 November 2010.
- "All About Sonia Rykiel: Fashion And Style". Essortment.com. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
- Sonia Rykiel. "Sonia Rykiel: 'I could no longer keep my illness secret' | Society". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
- "H&M FR | Les toutes dernières tendances de la mode et des vêtements de qualité au meilleur prix | H&M". Hm.com. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
- Chevalier, Michel (2012). Luxury Brand Management. Singapore: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-1-118-17176-9.
- "Hong Kong investors buy fashion brand Sonia Rykiel". Reuters. 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2016-02-04.
- "Julie de Libran Appointed Artistic Director at Sonia Rykiel | News & Analysis, Power Moves | BoF". Businessoffashion.com. Retrieved 2016-02-04.