When I first started covering the Paris ready-to-wear collections as a young fashion journalist I remember how much I loved going to Sonia Rykiel's shows. No one quite knew how to give a woman what she wants -- a little bit of sobriety, a touch of sex-appeal and a soupcon of whimsy -- the way she did. Everything she did seemed to me so quintessentially Parisian and all these many years later her clothes still say: chic, French, ageless. (They often also say "black" which, like Madame Rykiel, is my favorite color.)
I'm writing a story for "Vogue Knitting" at the moment about her 40 year career and her contributions to the world of knitwear. Women's Wear Daily called her "the queen of knitwear" back in 1970. In our interview she reminisces about her serendipitous beginning, her retirement this year and the tribute to her oeuvre at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris from November 20th until April 19, 2009, in case you'll be passing through.
(The "dress" pictured above was designed by Jean Paul Gaultier as part of a tribute to Mme. Rykiel's four decade career.)
In the research for my piece I came across an intriguing article published in "The Guardian" a few months ago where she was quoted as saying she has mirrors everywhere, "in my office and in my house." Personally I like to avoid mirrors and even go out of my way to avert my eyes from reflective surfaces, but I found her explanation for her love of mirrors fascinating.
"I believe it is very important to look at yourself as often as possible if you want to know yourself well," she told the Guardian. "In the mirror I see not only my face, but also who I am, who I have always been and hopefully who I will be as long as possible. I don't think I'm beautiful, but I do think I'm special."
That's my favorite part, a lesson in life: "I do think I'm special."
She went on to say she doubts she would ever have plastic surgery because there is nothing she wants to change about herself. "My view is," she said, "you have to deal with who you are. It's hard work, in a way, but somebody has to do it."
Now, if that doesn't brighten your day you're not paying attention.