"It is a sad day but Sonia Rykiel leaves behind her an
extraordinary legacy," Jean-Marc Loubier, chairman and chief
executive of First Heritage Brands, the parent company of the
Sonia Rykiel label, told Reuters. "She was a pioneer who helped
women and society evolve."
Rykiel founded her fashion house in 1968, when France was rocked
by violent student riots, with the aim of creating a
counter-culture to stiff, bourgeois dress codes with inside-out
stitches and extra-short skirts.
"She had invented not only a style but an attitude, a way of
life and gave women freedom of movement," French President
Francois Hollande's office said in a statement.
"I convey my sincere condolences to her children Nathalie and
Jean-Philippe and their family and close ones who are in pain."
Born in 1930, Rykiel was one of the first designers to create
tightly fitting sweater dresses that revealed women's body
contours. Early adopters of her style included actresses
Brigitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve and Audrey Hepburn.
In 1995, she passed on the creative and management leadership to
her daughter Nathalie, just around the time she was diagnosed
with Parkinson's disease.
Rykiel wrote about her life and her illness in a book she
published in 2012 in collaboration with journalist Judith
Perrignon called "Don't forget that I am acting."
That year, her daughter Nathalie and her family sold control of
the fashion label to First Heritage Brands, at the time called
Fung Brands, an investment group backed by Hong Kong
billionaires Victor and William Fung. The Asian group now also
owns shoemaker Robert Clergerie and Belgian fine leather goods
The Rykiel family sold their remaining minority stake this year
but Nathalie Rykiel still works as a consultant for the French
(Editing by Dominique Vidalon and Toby Chopra)
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