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Legendary Fashion Designer Sonia Rykiel Dies at 86

Sonia Rykiel death
Sonia Rykiel (right) with singer Beth Ditto in 2010 (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The French couturière fought a long battle with Parkinson's disease.

French designer Sonia Rykiel has died on August 25, 2016. She was 86.

A muse to Andy Warhol, and a fierce lover of the color black ("If it's worn right, black is a scandal," she once said), Rykiel was one of the most progressive women's wear designers of her time. In her 40 year career, she made haute couture gowns, power suits, and maternity clothing with the same signature nonchalance, humor, and sex-appeal.

Rykiel, who was also a writer and penned several books, counted Catherine Deneuve, Jacqueline Onassis, and Lauren Bacall as early supporters. Inside her Paris apartment, which was entirely painted in black laquer, her fiery red mane would stand out, presenting her as a wild bird of paradise when she received interviewers and luminary guests.

Along with Coco Chanel, Rykiel was credited to empower women through her designs. She received the Legion d'Honneur, France's highest cultural award, twice.

In the late 1990s, the designer was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. She handed over her business to her daughter, Nathalie, but would keep attending shows well into her 80s. The beloved Left Bank icon, who appeared in Robert Altman's movie Pret-a-Porter, in 1994, will be remembered in the fashion world as one of the most influential creatives who ever lived.

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