Sam Rykiel was the husband of French fashion designer Sonia Rykiel. Sam father of Sonia’s two children Nathalie and Jean-Philippe. Rykiel passed away at the age of 86 on August 25, 2016, 26 years after she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
Sam Rykiel’s talented and exquisite ex-wife was born in France on May 25, 1930 in Paris, France as Sonia Flis. They got married in 1953 and had two children. Nathalie born in 1955 and son Jean-Philippe born May 31, 1961 in Boulogne-Billancourt. Jean-Philippe who is today a keyboard player, music arranger and a composer was left blind as a baby. His blindness is the result of negligence in the hospital incubator, the oxygen too rich causing a retinopathy that permanently deprived him of sight and therefore considers blind from birth.
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In 1995 her daughter Nathalie Rykiel became creative direction of the house, and named president in 2008. Nathalie is married to Simon Burstein, son of London retailer Joan Burstein and Sonia’s business partner.
Sam Rykiel owned a boutique selling elegant clothing in the 14th arrondissement called Laura. It was there that Sonia designed and sold her first sweater. After Jean-Philippe’s birth, Sam turned his attention to his son, he was highly protective of him, but at the same time encourages the committee to be independent and to try out things, regardless of his blindness.
My father was someone extraordinary and highly attentive to me, taking me to concerts and museums, making me touch the sculptures we were not allowed to touch. Jean-Philippe recalled.
“As I often say, I felt the overwhelming attention of my father in me as both a blessing and a curse. My father and introduced me to Max Deutsch , classical composer coming from the Eastern Europe, a pupil of Arnold Schoenberg and admirer of Johannes Brahms and Gustav Mahler, but also a composer of film music.”
Sam and Sonia divorced in 1968, but he remained close with his ex-wife. He had already helped founding The Sonia Rykiel company in 1965, after their divorce, Sam helped her when the Sonia Rykiel brand was born and together they opened the doors of her first store based in the 6 rue de Grenelle in Paris.