France's highest administrative authority is studying whether local bans on full-body burkini swimsuits are legal, amid growing concerns in the country and abroad about police forcing Muslim women to disrobe.
Critics of the local decrees have said the orders are too vague, prompting local police officials to fine even women wearing the traditional Islamic headscarf and the hijab, but not burkinis.
The ruling specifically concerns a ban in the Riviera town of Villeneuve-Loubet, but the decision will be binding and set legal precedent on the increasingly heated question of whether cities can tell Muslim women what to wear to the beach.
The Villeneuve-Loubet order bars from local beaches any people whose garments don't respect the principles of secularism, health and safety rules and good moral standards.
Sonia Rykiel, a French designer dubbed the "queen of knitwear" whose relaxed sweaters in berry-colored stripes and eye-popping motifs helped liberate women from stuffy suits, has died at 86.
President Francois Hollande's office announced her death in a statement Thursday, praising her as "a pioneer" who "offered women freedom of movement."
The designer's empire grew to include menswear and children's lines as well as accessories, perfumes and home goods, sold in the label's stores on four continents.
Rykiel's star pieces include the "poor boy" sweater — often in black with jewel tone stripes or emblazoned with messages or graphic motifs like oversized red lips — knit tops with embroidered roses and funky, rhinestone-studded berets.