Sonia Rykiel (b. 25 May 1930, Paris, France) is a French fashion designer.
Ethnically a Polish Jew, Sonia Rykiel was born in Paris, France in 1930. At the age of 17, she was employed to dress the window displays in a Parisian textile store. Sonia was married to the owner of a boutique which sold elegant clothing. In 1962 she just couldn't find any soft sweaters to wear when she was pregnant. So she used a supplier to her husband from Venice to design her own.
Sonia Rykiel created her first maternity dresses and tiny sweater. The sweater is her symbol and she was crowned "Queen of Knits" by the Americans in 1967. The sweater went back 7 times for alterations before she was satisfied with it. From then, she has experimented with seams inside out, took away the hem and lining, and created a range of fragrances of which '7e Sens' was the first. This first creation was called the Poor boy Sweater, and she started selling it from her husbands label "Laura". It made the cover of ELLE fashion magazine, and brought her fame.
She later became the first designer to put seams on the outside of a garment, and to print words on her sweaters. In particular, she favours long clinging sweaters or small cropped pullovers, large rolled-back cuffs and long shawls. Her colours are usually beige, grey, dark blue and charcoal.
Rykiel has written many books, including an A to Z of fashion, and a collection of children’s stories.
In 1980 she was voted one of the world's 10 most elegant women.