When Sonia Rykiel died a few weeks ago, it didn’t come as a shock. She was sick and she was old. Nobody lives forever. But there are people who influence your life more than others. They may be actors, writers, activists – or fashion designers. People who inspire you to become a better person than you are, to aim higher, work harder, because you want to become a little bit as wonderful as your idol. Along the way of following your role model you may accidentally become something entirely different, yet not less wonderful. You might become yourself. Sonia Rykiel for me was a truely inspirational woman. She was the kind of ‘cool’ women that I always liked. Skinny as a stick, thin lips, angular features, aquiline nose, cavernous eyes and blazing red hair. She didn’t fit a current beauty ideal, but she was stunning in a much more striking, distinctive way. Although she certainly wasn’t the archetype of a sensual woman, she started a line that defined the term ‘sensual’ in a new way. She designed clothes for a woman who is at ease with her sexuality, who is sassy and slightly eccentric with a good sense of humour, comfortable around women and men and doesn’t take fashion too seriously. I don’t know if she was that woman herself, but she gave us the possibility of becoming that woman by creating her image. Thank you for that, Madame Rykiel, I hope you sit comfortably on your stripy cloud.
Illustration by Julia Richter