The Legacy of Sonia Rykiel

Apr 10, 2020

The Legacy of Sonia Rykiel

Sonia Rykiel revolutionized womenswear in the 1960s, but never quite became a modern household name. And after celebrating the 50th anniversary of the brand in 2018, a year later it was gone. In the present day over-saturated market, it takes more than a cute story from fifty years ago to succeed. Sonia Rykiel might have made history with her Poor Boy Sweater, but over the decades, the brand lost touch with cultural shifts and was forced into liquidation in July 2019. There were many reasons for the downfall of Sonia Rykiel, but today I would like to take a look at the heritage the brand left behind. Sonia Rykiel’s impact on fashion is still visible to this day as the brand’s influence has made it’s way into all of our wardrobes.

Sonia Rykiel fitting fashion photography

The Poor Boy Sweater

Sonia Rykiel was best known for her knitwear. So much so, that’s she’s widely known as the “Queen of Knits”. She revolutionized knitwear in fashion. Best known for her Poor Boy sweater – a ribbed pullover with high armholes. First released in 1962, it was tight and figure-fitting. It liberated women from wearing bulky, unflattering sweaters that became a thing of the past. The Poor Boy Sweater gained a lot of popularity, with Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot being just few of the stars that wore Sonia Rykiel’s creations throughout the 1960s. Through the decades, the Poor Boy sweater has remained as a staple piece in wardrobes across the globe.

Audrey Hepburn Sonia Rykiel Poor Boy Sweater

Make a statement like Sonia Rykiel

We want to tell stories with our clothes, showing a glimpse of who we are and what we stand for. Sonia Rykiel was one of the first designers ever to put text on a sweater and the first word she used was “sensuous“. Nowadays we’re so used to wearing t shirts and sweaters with text on them. We’ll wear everything from brand names to slogans to declaring to the world that we’re having a bad hair day. No matter what it says- someone out there is probably wearing it. The Sensuous sweater became a best seller and we’ve been making statements with our clothes ever since.

Sonia Rykiel Sweater Pre-Fall 2019

All Black Everything

I often wear an all black outfit, a few years ago, when I was going through my extreme minimalism phase, I only wore black and had eliminated all other colors from my wardrobe. Eventually, color found it’s way back to me and those days are behind me. But it’s undeniable that wearing an all back outfit gives you a sense of power and confidence that is hard match. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Sonia Rykiel has been credited with making wearing all black the embodiment of Parisian cool. She’s admitted herself that she didn’t like wasting time choosing colors. “I like to dress very simply – perhaps a black crepe jacket and black crepe trousers,” Sonia has been quoted saying.

Sonia Rykiel Fall Winter 2018 Campaign Photoshoot

The Legacy of Sonia Rykiel

The ideas of the revolutionary designer still live on. As well as trends that were pioneered by Sonia Rykiel have become staples in everyone’s wardrobe. Sonia Rykiel passed away in 2016 at the age of 86 and in the summer of 2019 the brand ceased to exist. Perhaps we just arrived at the end of Sonia’s story? Making an impact on fashion forever, her legacy lives on, even if the brand doesn’t. After all, there’s a street in Paris named after her.

Sonia Rykiel Street in Paris