Sonia Rykielby Patrick Mauries
Sonia Rykiel represents the liberated woman in every sense of the word, both in her creations and her lifestyle. Known to Americans as "the Queen of Knits," this striking redhead started her career in the most extraordinary fashion. Married to the owner of a boutique that sold clothing somewhere between custom-made and ready-to-wear, she never could find a sweater that truly suited her. So she decided to design her own, using a supplier of her husband in Venice. The sweater went back for alterations seven times before the design was perfected, but in the end she was pleased - so was Elle magazine, who used it on a cover, making Sonia Rykiel instantly famous. In 1968, she opened her own boutique on the Left Bank's fashionable rue de Grenelle, and soon designed sweaters for mass-market mail-order catalogs. Encouraging women to adapt her clothes to their individual lifestyles, she introduced such novel ideas as clothing to be worn inside-out, seams being as important as surface. Rykiel created her own perfume in 1978, launched a career as an interior designer (whose most elegant creation was the decoration of the luxurious Hotel Crillon on the place Vendome), and in 1980 was elected one of the world's ten most elegant women.
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