6 magical sonia rykiel moments to watch on youtube

As we remember fashion's beloved "queen of knitwear" who never learned to knit, take a look back at six memorable moments, from her epic 40th anniversary tribute show to the Jagger sisters' surreal woodland fall/winter 15 campaign.

by Hannah Ongley
25 August 2016, 6:50pm

Fashion's idiosyncratic knitwear queen passed away early this morning at the age of 86, more than five decades since opening her first store on Paris' Left Bank in the 60s. With her trademark orange bob and equally experimental, exuberant approach to design, Sonia Rykiel had an intrinsic awareness of what women wanted. Which, after all, is how Rykiel's very first piece — a soft "poor boy" sweater that she made to cover her own pregnancy bump in 1962 — landed on the cover of French Elle. Rykiel's legacy and outlook have remained untarnished since the designer left the helm of her own label when she was first diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in the late 90s. Case in point: the 40th Anniversary runway show that saw 30 of the industry's most phenomenal designers create a tribute to her luxe insouciance. As we remember the beloved French designer, take a look back at that fall/winter 2009 show plus five other quintessential Rykiel moments on YouTube.

In October 2008, 30 of the world's most celebrated fashion designers gathered at Paris Parc de Saint-Cloud to present a spectacular gift to the sage of sweaters. Karl Lagerfeld, Alber Elbaz, and Jean Paul Gaultier were among those who each put their own spin on Rykiel's pragmatically sexy aesthetic as one hell of a grand finale. Gaultier's offering was a model wearing a Rykiel-orange wig and knitting needles who appeared to still be constructing her dress, while Margiela made a magnificent "fur" coat sewed solely out of orange wigs.

"Fashion icon since the 1970s, Sonia Rykiel has upset the codes of elegance," reads the (Google Translated) description of this enthralling video. "She explains her design of a fashion in the service of woman, easy to carry, free of conventions." The clip features Rykiel both wearing and walking us through one of her most iconic designs — an ice-blue V-neck with inside-out seams and matching knitted accessories.

Around the same time as she was shooting the beloved Luc Besson sci-fi film The Fifth Element, Milla Jovovich starred in a second piece of important pop culture — Sonia Rykiel's spring/summer 97 fashion show. The Ukrainian-born screen queen walked to "Sweet Dreams" by the Eurythmics while wearing sharp hotpants and a belted blazer. A year earlier, Marilyn Manson had released a cover version of the iconic new wave duo's track as the first single from his 1995 EP Smells Like Children.

Ever a master of blending the ordinary with the opulent, Sonia Rykiel launched her collection for H&M with an extravagant runway show at Paris' Grand Palais. The designer's diffusion knits took something of a backseat to outsized fluffy coats and silky lingerie far too nice to keep covered up. And perhaps most impressively, giant floats upon which models rode bicycles and swung on chandeliers in front of Rykiel, Eva Herzigova, Kate Bosworth, and Jean Paul Gaultier.

Rykiel wasn't just a designer but also an artist and children's book writer. In an interview with France 24, she explained the creative link between her fashion experiments while revealing a selection of personal drawings from her sketchbook. "A drawing leaves nothing to chance," she said. "It's a form of arrogance. There's nothing random about these lines. My dresses and sweaters are more unpredictable."

For Sonia Rykiel's Brothers Grimmish fall/winter 15 campaign, legendary lo-fi photographer Juergen Teller shot Georgia May and Lizzy Jagger on a very surreal (and very chic) expedition into the woods. "The two sisters were thrilled to be posing for Rykiel," Teller said of capturing them rolling around on a lawn and climbing over stone statues — all to the sound of their own ghostly giggles. "They have so much energy and vigor, it was an utter pleasure to work with them once again," he said. The rock 'n' roll silver flares and slashed 70s jumpsuits look like quite a pleasure to work with too. 

Related: Sonia Rykiel, the queen of knits


Text Hannah Ongley
Image courtesy of Sonia Rykiel 

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