Aug 25, 2016
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Sonia Rykiel's best catwalk moments

Aug 25, 2016

Sonia Rykiel, the Parisian fashion designer who shook up the French style scene, has passed away at the age of 86. We look back at some of her most visionary catwalk moments.

Sonia Rykiel Spring/Summer 1994 - ©AFP / Gerard Julien

Rykiel burst onto the scene in the late 1960s, and remained the darling of the Parisian fashion world even after Parkinson's disease forced her to take a backseat in 2007, leading to her daughter Nathalie Rykiel taking over executive functions at the brand. Her name quickly became synonymous with the quirky, artistic and seductive style captivating the city's Left Bank at the time, and she came to represent a sexy but witty aesthetic, often infused, as a photo of her during a fashion show on March 1980 proves, with a glamorously kitsch cabaret vibe.

She was an early champion of stripy prints and color blocking, and often worked from a palette of blacks, whites, blues and charcoals livened up with jolts of red. She loved to take risks, and her Spring/Summer 1994 fashion show featured supermodel Helena Christensen wearing both trends simultaneously with a cape and a wraparound bikini top. Her menswear designs were just as bold when it came to mixing up colors and prints, as this photo from her Autumn/Winter 1996 show illustrates.

Sonia Rykiel spring-summer ready-to-wear collection - ©AFP

Despite being known as the queen of knitwear for her inventive statement sweaters, Rykiel was continuously breaking the rules, designing transparent lace turtlenecks such as the one that featured in her Autumn/Winter 1996 womenswear collection. Before long she was adding animal prints into the mix, making for a wild Spring/Summer 1997 show.

The late 1990s saw her focus on fur as a way of encompassing her sensual, fun, luxe and cozy aesthetic. Her Autumn/Winter 1998 show featured snuggly cardigans worn open over knitted bras -- the perfect contradiction. The furs gradually became more colorful, resulting in a range of richly-dyed snugs for Autumn/Winter 2001.

Sonia Rykiel Autumn-Winter 2002/2003 ready-to-wear collections - ©AFP / Jean-Pierre Muller

Rykiel never lost her love of cabaret, and though the house became instantly recongnizable for its signature bright stripes, she was just as well known for the slinky nightclub feel of her pieces -- often incorporating theatrical hats, such as in the Spring/Summer 2002 show, into her ranges. Daywear was just as important, and the label continued to do a roaring trade in those ironic-looking printed sweaters such as the one seen in the Autumn/Winter 2002 show, and a trio of identical menswear knits from the Autumn/Winter 2003 collection. Yet despite perfecting playful, adding girlish ribbons to this wrap knit from Spring/Summer 2004, a head-to-toe fur and beret combination from her Fall 2004 collection shows Rykiel at her very best -- that is, when living up to her deserved name as the impossibly glamorous and quintessentially enigmatic Parisienne.

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