In seeking to unpack the fascinating world of Sonia Petroff, the late designer and original founder of our brand, we have of course, her memory, preserved by Maria Leoni-Sceti, who is married to Sonia’s nephew and revived the present-day house. Many facts, photos and memorabilia give hints into the structure of her life and all the places she travelled to, but, when seeking to understand a designer’s work, it’s important to understand their inner world. How can we look into a creative’s psyche? With a fact being that a disproportionate number of designers are born under certain astrological signs (Gabrielle Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Louis Vuitton were all Leos), one such way is to understand their zodiac.
Unpacking Sonia Petroff’s archives in Rome
Sonia, born July 13th in 1933, was a Cancer. But in many ways, Sonia didn’t seemingly conform to the Water sign’s traits. Famously, Cancers are known for being highly domestic, while Sonia’s life was one of adventure and glamour. Cancers are known for a home life, and preference to couple up and create large families, yet Sonia chose a life of independence, a career, and not to have children. She only married in her mid-40s to a Roman professor of petroleum engineering, a handsome ladies’ man-turned-lady’s man. Sonia chose financial autonomy over a good and easy marriage unlike many of her jet-set contemporaries, for whom marrying well was of utmost priority.
In her book Sun Signs, considered the Bible of the Zodiac, renowned astrologer Linda Goodman describes the apparent paradox well. She writes: “So it is with the Cancer girl. She’s just a little mad, slightly sad and superbly imaginative.”
Sonia’s astrological chart reveals that she had a Sun Sign in Cancer, but a Rising Sign in the beauty-loving sign of Libra.
Despite the seemingly peripatetic life of Sofia, who fled Bulgaria with her family during the rise of communism, and relocated to Romania, and then Switzerland before settling in Argentina, followed up with periods in the trifecta that is New York, London, and Paris (and finally later, Rome) found a way to meet both of these needs by making each place a home. And her photos, always full of friends and intimate gatherings, suggested that Sonia knew how to create an enchanting ambience to foster connection between people.
Astrologers also advise to look to a person’s Rising Sign, as this is what they will outwardly seem most like. Sonia’s Rising Sign was Libra, of which the famed AstroTwins say: “Very attractive and popular, their charm helps them to get their own way and prevents others from getting angry with them. Flashy but not gaudy, they prefer to dress elegantly. They generally have good taste in music, art and literature. A bit of a social butterfly, they are gracious and affectionate, and their refined and aristocratic demeanour serves as a role model to others.” (Check, check, and check.)
Perhaps one of the strongest links to the sign of the crab can be seen in the product. After all, Sonia’s original motif designs for the Lobster, Sea Horse, and Dragon Fish, which Maria then developed into collections, have an inherent mystical, under-the-sea mood.
Of course, there is the mysterious inspiration behind the Aries collection. Although the two signs are quite different – the masculine fire sign Aries is fiery and aggressive – watery feminine Cancers are attracted to them. Sonia counted Arian actor Marlon Brando as a friend – and that’s all we know – but the connection does intrigue.
One thing that’s undoubtedly true about Cancers is their generosity. And in the name of Sonia’s legacy as an independent woman, the brand is a strong supporter of Room to Read, a leading non-profit focused on children's literacy in Asia and Africa. Every single Sonia Petroff purchase helps fund girls’ education through our partnership.
In her book, Goodman actually starts the chapter on the Cancer woman with: “You’ll have trouble deciding if your Cancerian girl is a gentle moon maiden or a wild loony-bird. In the end, you still won’t know.” Touché.