French designer, Sonia Rykiel is best known for her work with knits. Her claim to fame was a body-hugging striped "poor boy" sweater that she designed for her husband's boutique, Laura. The sweater was featured on the cover of Elle magazine, and Rykiel's career took off. She established her own label and her own Sonia Rykiel Boutique in 1968.
At a time when fashion was becoming less constricted with less reliance on supportive undergarments, Rykiel's knits were exactly what women wanted to wear. She worked with luxury yarns like mohair, angora, and alpaca, as well as cotton and wool.
Rykiel was a leader in the concept of layering. She often showed ensembles made of at least 3 pieces, and often more, that could be layered and mix-and-matched. Her designs often included matching caps, scarves, or head wraps, as she was adamant that a woman's head should be covered.
Rykiel's preference for knits reflects her fundamental belief that it is possible to be both stylish and comfortable at the same time. She also believed that a woman was the best designer for women.
Sonia Rykiel was the first to show seams on the outside of a garment. Her hems were often finished with a narrow zig-zag stitch and no turn-under.
In the 1970's, Rykiel did a series of designer patterns for Vogue. These two examples are from 1975. Vogue pattern 1266, on the left, features Rykiel's Bertha collar sweater, which was hugely popular on the runway that year. The pattern on the right, Vogue 1267, features a long cardigan sweater that ties at the front.
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