Photo: Guardian

The current 70s revival has been a tad bittersweet for those of us alive and rocking in that craziest of all decades, says Vicci Bentley. First we lost Bowie, the poster-person for glam rock androgyny, then that other redhead rebel, Sonia Rykiel who died last month, aged 86, from Parkinson’s.

As one of the designers of the 70s (an era not usually remembered for its simple good taste) her skinny stripy knits managed to make zany, hotchpotch colour seem meant-to-be, without losing its sense of humour or freedom. Lateral stripes? No kidding. I was in my twenties and fancied my little tits off in a tank top and bell-bottom loons….

1970s Sonia Rykiel editorial

Good to know then, that the stripes that became her signature are still easy on the eye, thanks to uncanny foresight by Lancôme. Celebrating the Rive Gauche spirit that epitomised Paris’s new gen designers of the day, the cosmetic brand’s current Sonia Rykiel limited edition (available HERE) is a collaboration between Rykiel’s creative director Julie de Libran and Lancôme’s MUA, the very talented Lisa Eldridge. And it’s rather chic, to coin a phrase.


Among the Vernis in Love polishes, £13, there’s a lovely, moody khaki, while the chunky, double-ended Parisian Lips Le Stylo, £21 (fresh basic pinks and reds) have a balm one end and matte colour the other to contour lips without making them over-edgy. The fluid Cushion Blush Subtil, £28.50 look a bit lively in the palette, but settle to a healthy-looking stain on cheeks. What I’m loving most, though, is La Palette Saint-Germain in M00, Parisian Spirit £42 – a collection of six, beautifully warm, subtly sheeny browns and rose-golds, spot on for autumn’s bronze eyeshadow trend. Prune and mauve powders can be used as accents or liners, while a shell pink highlight lifts browbones and brightens inner eye corners.



It’s a well-co-ordinated, very wearable tribute to a woman who, reading between the stripes, had no time for faff and fuss. ‘I hate wasting time getting dressed,’ she once told the Guardian. ‘I like to put something on and just think: yes, that’s it.’ Who knows if she saw the prototypes before she cast off one last time, but these easy chic colours would have seen her right.


10 thoughts on “Salut Sonia – and Lancome’s wearable tribute

  1. As press officer for Browns in the 70s I helped promote the Rykiel collections in the UK. I loved her style and was the proud possessor of a similar stripped sweater. Wish I had it now!

  2. I can’t help but think of Bonaparte’s aunt, Daniele, when I see Rykiel. She lived within walking distance of Rykiel’s boutique in Paris and over half her wardrobe was by Rykiel. Down to her shoes!

  3. DC had a wonderful boutiques Saks Jandel and Rive Gauche that sold her clothes in the late 70s early 80s. I was in high school and spent my part time paycheck on her pants and tops. Her summer collections were great too. I must try the Lancome! Thank you for sharing. Hope we have it in US. (Ps. As exchange student in 80s loved Browns too.)

  4. No one may remember this, but Sonia Rykiel was one of the first designers to create the velvet running suit,
    when the exercise craze hit the 80’s.
    I had one in a very pale yellow, it was very chic and incredibly comfortable. Needless to say the ladies at Juicy Couture must have gotten a hold of one, and capitalized on one of her many original ideas.

  5. I love the photo of the models. It is so hard to pinpoint why the shot is so different than the shots in the magazines today. However, to me its the way the models are actually wearing the clothes to show off the clothes, rather than about the models’ body or pout and pose. Plus I want a pair of ankles like that. The makeup packaging is gorgeous, especially the stripes, and you have inspired me to buy a lipstick and I might buy the sponge container just to look at.

  6. There were, indeed, some lovely styles in the 70s. It wasn’t all about glam rock, as some people insist on believing. I still recall with great affection an oatmeal coloured light summer jacket that I wore to death from ’78 to ’80. And a pair of gorgeous summer wedge sandals from ’79. Rykiel was too sophisticated for me.

  7. Must search out my lovely Sonia Rykiel striped jumper which buttons up the back, bought in France so many years ago that I don’t care to remember. The moths got at it and I did some careful mending. Had forgotten how lovely it is.

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