It's a sad day — iconic designer Sonia Rykiel has died at age 86. She changed the face of fashion in so many ways with her sense of fun, creative outlook, and chic sensibility. Per her obituary, "the free-spirited Ms. Rykiel made fashions for women who, like herself, were too busy to fuss over the latest designer fads — women who wanted to look smart, but needed to get on with their lives."
Here are 15 photos celebrating her look, her life, and her unforgettable legacy.
Before Rykiel, sweaters were ugly, chunky, unsexy affairs. She singlehandedly transformed them into the fitted, feminine wardrobe staples we know (and love) today.
Her tops — affectionately named "Poor Boy sweaters" — were that rare combination of slouchy and sexy, the de-facto uniform of the liberated cool girl of the '60s.
From the outset, Rykiel was obsessed with stripes, reinventing them for a younger, more fashionable set.
"I was fascinated by stripes from the start," she told the Guardian in 2013. "On clothing they follow a woman's movements."
This 1963 Elle cover caused a legit style riot — back then, magazines only put the highest of high fashion on the cover, and here was a fitted sweater.
Truly, this was one of the first mag covers to embrace the high-low thing that we know and love today — Rykiel's clothing wasn't cheap, but it was definitely youth-oriented.
The legend goes that Audrey Hepburn saw that Elle cover, and bought 14 of Sonia's sweaters immediately — and a style icon was born.
Audrey's fashion legacy may not have been so enduring, were it not for Sonia's cute sweaters.
Sonia herself really refined the concept of having a personal style — her voluminous red hair, red lips, and all-black outfits became her calling card.
"Black, if it's worn right, is a scandal," she famously said. One wonders if the fashion designer in head-to-toe black would still be considered as chic today, had Sonia not honed the lewk in Paris.
In the '90s, she made runway shows fun again — helping launch the careers of some of the world's biggest supermodels.
Gone were the days of a single model skulking down the runway — she sent models out in groups, laughing and having a great time. Her mantra was always that fashion should be FUN.
And guess who you can thank for the omnipresent crop top?
Between cropped, striped sweaters, slouchy hats, shrunken tops, and high-waisted, non-confining pants, one COULD argue that Sonia was the mother of the entire '90s aesthetic.
Rykiel encouraged women not to take luxurious fabrics too seriously.
Her knits in thin cashmere, jersey, and the finiest wool were fun pieces meant to be worn every day — not just on special occasionals. Fur stoles dyed wild, cartoonish colors (and paired with fun linings) became a Rykiel stapel. It's all very casual luxurybitch.
She was *always* obsessed with how unusual fabrics — fur, wool, feathers — moved with women as they walked.
Everything she ever did was about enhancing the beauty of the body in motion. Sonia Rykiel stood for modern women living busy, modern lives — with a major sense of humor.
Even though Sonia retired from running her line in 2009, her fun spirit lived on in the brand that bore her name — as the updated 2013 Poor Boy sweater line attested to.
The classic cut she pioneered + don't-take-it-seriously colorway + print = pure Rykiel.
And the Sonia Rykiel for Lancome makeup collaboration is the perfect tribute to her love of color, stripes, and Parisian chic.
Just saying — the Parisian Lip Crayons are SO GOOD.
Thank you for everything, Sonia. You'll be missed.
What's your favorite Sonia Rykiel fashion moment? Tell me right here, or over on Facebook!