After fighting Parkinson’s disease for two decades, beloved French fashion designer and the so-called “Queen of Knitwear,” Sonia Rykiel has passed away at the age of 86.
Having come to prominence in the ’70s with clients like Audrey Hepburn and Catherine Deneuve after opening her first Parisian flagship, Rykiel led her label until 1995, stepping down as CEO and artistic director that year, but remaining on as honorary president until 2009. Thanks to her comfort-meets-style approach, elimination of darts, and pioneering placement of seams on the outside of her garments, Rykiel’s eponymous brand now operates 25 storefronts across the globe and is carried by over 630 retailers.
Said French President Francois Hollande of Rykiel following news of her death:
[Sonia Rykiel was] a free woman and a pioneer. She invented not only a style, but also an attitude, a way of living and of being, and gave women a freedom of movement. Passionate about culture, she did not conceive of fashion without the arts, which were always present in her creations. Her style is known across the world. It will remain a symbol of the remarkable alliance of colour and the natural, of fluidity and light.
Rykiel’s daughter, Nathalie, remains on the company’s board as a chairwoman while Julie de Libran will continue to serve as creative director — a role she’s held since 2014.