Sonia Rykiel on Pausing for Thought and the Creative Process

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AnOther Magazine S/S08Photography by André Wolff

At the sad news of her passing, aged 86, we revisit the iconic French designer's reflections from AnOther Magazine S/S08

“We are entering a new world. Everything moves. We dive into a virtual universe out of which springs limitless new images. We should not be swept along by events. Thanks to new technologies, we can move away from traditional constraints, including waiting periods, but these used to be an integral part of the creative process. The internet allows information to be gathered instantaneously, which is a huge step forward for policymakers and financiers, and for fashion designers too. Progress is unquestionable, life has become easier in most cases but there is a risk of rupturing the social fabric or the quality of human exchanges. Trends are identified and circulated very quickly and must be seized upon before they disappear. The public sees these things also, which gives them a great deal of freedom and leads them to make unexpected choices. They ask far more of the brand they choose than they used to. How can we live with this new challenge? By working hard and by adapting – and by reflecting on the situation, of course.”

Sonia Rykiel opened her first boutique on Paris’s Left Bank in 1968, the year of the student riots, and was christened “queen of the knits” by Women’s Wear Daily, not long after that. Her skinny sweaters, worn tight-fitting over androgynous torsos, were a far cry from the structured, jolie madame clothing that came before them; perfectly capturing the spirit of increasingly emancipated times. Rykiel was a writer of novels and children’s fairy tales. In 1994 she turned her hand to music, recording a duet with Malcolm McLaren. Her instantly recognisable and quintessentially French flame-haired, alabaster-skinned, dramatically-dressed appearance has captured the imagination of artists including Andy Warhol, Giacometti and Jean Cocteau.

This article first appeared in AnOther Magazine S/S08. Sonia Rykiel (née Flis) was born on May 25, 1930 in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. She passed away on August 25, 2016 at home in Paris.