May 25, 1930 Paris, France 11:55 pm
Sonia Rykiel is one of Paris’s most celebrated tastemakers and a fashion force to be reckoned with. Made famous by her luxurious knitwear, Rykiel in typical Gemini fashion has gone on to write books in several genres, illustrate a book, record several musical collaborations, design costumes for a theatre and screen, act in a film, design the interiors of major Parisian hotels, as well as design porcelain dolls, knives, stationary, furniture, pocket despensers and an XBOX game console. This dizzying array of accomplishments is all in a days work for the Gemini woman who thrives on variety and change.
Of course, Rykiel has several astrological aspects to thank for this innovative and enduring legacy. The Gemini energy thrives on solving problems, and this was precisely how Rykiel got started in her career. When she was pregnant in 1962 she couldn’t locate soft, comfortable sweaters to wear. So she decided to make her own, using cashmere from a supplier that her husband, a boutique owner, used. While many Gemini woman are able to identify savvy entrepreneurial ideas, few have the practicality and patience necessary to produce results. This where Rykiel’s stubborn, hard-working and perfectionistic Taurus moon sign comes in. Once the Taurus energy turns it’s focus on something, it will not stop until it has been accomplished. Legend has it that Rykiel sent her original sweater back for alterations seven times before she was satisfied with it.
In Rykiel’s chart, Venus, planet of love and beauty is in soft, sensuous and delicate Cancer. This perfect describes her fashion aesthetic, with its emphasis on comfort and luxurious materials. Cozy knitwear has a very Cancerian feeling but the emphasis on top-notch material comes from her refined Taurus moon. When she designed her first sweater in 1962 her progressed sun was conjunct her natal Venus in early Cancer.
After being crowed the “queen of knitwear” by Women’s Wear Daily in 1970, Rykiel followed up with further innovations in her field, such as the launch of inside-out stitching in 1974 and “la demode”, or un-fashion, in 1976 which she describes as “teaching women how to use their head to create fashion for their body”. Again the themes of Gemini (the mind, thinking) interacting with Taurus and Cancer (the physical body and the feminine body) are strong. La demode was all about mixing and matching, being individualistic and unstructured about fashion. Again, the Gemini love for whimsicality and combining different elements shines through and emerged again in her knitwear that had words (Gemini, communication) on the front.
Capricorn is Rykiel’s rising sign which, like her Taurus moon, has given her a tremendous amount of staying power and prestige in her field. The earthy Capricorn ascendant lends a strong air of professionalism and with so many disparate artists and innovators, from chocolatiers to hotel designers, seeking her out for collaborations, it is clear that she has a strong reputation as a hard-working and dependable (Capricorn) as well as innovative (Gemini) and refined (Taurus) woman. Indeed she was the inspiration behind the main character in Pisces director Robert Altman’s fashion movie Pret-a-Porter.
It is interesting that in a certain sense, Rykiel’s chart has much in common with another female powerhouse of her era, Capricorn Diane von Furstenberg. They both have extremely revolutionary and unconventional streaks, Rykiel’s Gemini sun and Mars/Uranus conjunction in Aries, and von Furstenberg’s Aries moon and sun/Mars conjunction. However, this is balanced out with earthy resilience and dependability in the form of Rykiel’s Taurus moon and Capricorn ascendant, and von Furstenberg’s Capricorn sun [See my article “Capricorn Fashion Idol: Diane von Furstenberg]. Interestingly 1970 was the year that both of these woman hit the big time. They emerged in the wake of the extremely powerful and revolutionary triple conjunction of Pluto, Uranus and Jupiter that occurred in Virgo in 1969.
A major difference in their charts is that von Furstenberg has several important planets above the horizon in her chart, indicating a public life, while most all of Rykiel’s planets are clustered towards the bottom of her chart, showing a more private personality. While Rykiel is famous in her native France and in the worldwide fashion elite, she is not a household name.
While some signs thrive on predictability, Gemini is not one of them. Sonia Rykiel’s unusual career has followed a path that perhaps only a Gemini could understand and enjoy. Though her daughter Nathalie has taken over as President and Creative Director of the Sonia Rykiel brand, as an artist and a creative being she has sought to bring her interesting ideas to different people throughout many fields and has had a lasting impact on the world, not just the fashion world.