On the afternoon of August 25, the Elysee Palace issued an official press release, in which it was reported that Sonya Rykiel had died. She was 86 years old, twenty of which she had Parkinson's disease. But you probably know about it yourself - yesterday everyone wrote about Sonia, from newspapers and news agencies to blogs and fashion websites. Short notes with the main milestones in life, quotes from her daughter Natalie and a listing of the main services to world fashion: stripes, bright colors and, of course, knitwear. Ninety percent of the notes were called “Sonia Rykiel, the queen of knitwear, is dead”. As if this phrase in a vacuum means at least something.
"Sonya Rykiel, the queen of knitwear" is the fashionable equivalent of the school's "Pushkin is our everything." It is better to know about a great poet, at least that he is great, than not to know at all, but is that really enough? Are Sonya Rykiel the striped sweaters? And who would have managed to go down in fashion history if he had just come up with a knitted sweater?
Her death once again showed how quickly and imperceptibly reality changes. Sonia Rykiel appeared on the world stage at the height of the sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s, while The Beatles were gaining popularity, and the French government seized entire cassettes of the overly erotic song “Je t'aime … Moi non plus” by Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg. In 1968, when Rykiel started, clothing could still be a challenge and make revolutions (or at least participate in them). The striped sweater that made Sonya famous, Poor Boy Sweater, appeared on the cover of Elle - and instantly became a statement, and not only of an aesthetic sense.
In the late sixties, women were not yet wearing overly-fitting turtlenecks that seemed to be lacking in fabric. But after a couple of months Audrey Hepburn bought a dozen of these sweaters from Sonya, and the designer continued to "write the story of a woman - an intellectual, a little strange, sometimes funny, serious … She loves literature, painting, parties and life." Rykiel was one of the two main feminist fashion designers of the 20th century (for which she received the nickname Coco Rykiel) and was not afraid of anything at all: “I knew nothing and therefore did whatever I wanted. I didn't listen to anyone. When, for example, it rained, I came up with a raincoat. When it was cold, I made a coat. I followed my instincts. " She made the design minimalistic before the arrival of the Japanese wave and came up with the idea of turning things out with seams outward to the Belgians simply because she felt that way, and as a result, she influenced the course of the Cultural Revolution in her own way.
In 2009, during the presentation of the Order of the Legion of Honor of France, Nicolas Sarkozy called Rykiel "an insufferable French designer." And a year before the presentation, Rykiel said: "Today there are too many environmental and political dramas in the world to be truly free." Her fashion was underlined "demode" - anti-fashion, and she dressed women in those things that she wanted to wear herself. Rykiel was rude to journalists, ridiculed trends, asked models to smile and dance on the catwalk long before the Victoria's Secret show appeared. Her house was completely built around her personality: here is a collection of fur coats similar to Sonya's favorite fur coat, here are those most comfortable sweaters, here is a funny tribute to her legendary red hair.
Today's designers cannot afford this. They work hand-in-hand with marketers, sales are an indicator of their talent, and movie and show business stars are the translators of the style of their brands. Conditions have changed, and Sonya felt it back in the 2000s, when she finally retired. She understood better than anyone that being "unbearably French" or at least simply unbearable in the 21st century is impossible.
Oscar de la Renta, Yves Saint Laurent, Sonya Ryquel - the legends that have passed away in recent years are now attracting the views of millions, even if nicknames that have lost all meaning (the queen of knitwear, the last gentleman, a delicate artist) have attached themselves to them in the mass unconscious. What they did was pure creativity, with all its extravagances and excesses. Eve drank with Andy Warhol's company at Studio 54 and shared lovers with Lagerfeld. Oscar was building an openwork universe of impeccable elegance for the grand ladies, not thinking about the convenience of jersey sweatpants and whether his clothes could be machine washed.
Sonya proclaimed the freedom and rights of women - not only to sexuality - and praised the lifestyle of progressive French women who wanted to dress sensually and relaxed, guided only by their own ideas of beauty. Her heroine loved to travel, have sex and dance at parties, when it was not yet such a legitimate activity. And although nostalgia in fashion in any case should not be carried away, sometimes you want to feel a little sad that we live in a different time. It has many advantages, humanism and a more correct understanding of freedom, but there is no drive and feeling of “knee-deep sea” that made the appearance of great fashion designers possible.
The Sonia Rykiel brand is experiencing a rebirth right now - it is represented by the Jagger sisters, both main lines look very modern, creative director Julie de Libran does not get tired of accepting compliments and participating in collaborations. It is not known how the media would have reacted to the death of the designer if the Rykiel brand had not been doing well. In the twentieth century, there lived not one or two talented fashion designers, but fashion and fashion in order to quickly forget the past.
If Jeanne Lanvin (thanks to Albert Elbaz and the Lanvin team) is well remembered, then Paul Poiret is only those who are more or less deeply interested in fashion, and without him there would not have been, for example, Coco Chanel. What about, say, Charles James? A great American couturier, whose dresses can be easily confused with Christian Dior. They, too, were the kings of their era and are gone too. Now an effort has to be made to remember who they are, because no one is concerned with their legacy.
Fashion, as a collection of things, probably deserves the condescension it receives - designers do not save lives and do not build spaceships. But fashion as a reflection of reality, as a visual embodiment of socio-cultural processes is a phenomenon no less important than the history of art or any other. Of course, time would have taken its toll: if Sonya Rykiel had not appeared, some other designer would have set an example for women. But Sonya appeared, and we are all very lucky that it was her.
Images: Dasha Chertanova, Sonia Rykiel / Facebook