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There was something a bit ironic (or should I say, surrealistic) about Ralph Rucci quietly and serenely showing what many feel was his best collection yet-as he did, on the final day of shows (Friday)- followed by Jennifer Lopez and her overly hyped and overly speculated Sweetface debut. As I said-talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous. And sublime it was. Before an audience that included fans and customers like Barbara Walters, Diana Taylor (Mayor Bloomberg's gal pal), San Francisco social figure-Tatiana Soroko, and fashion icon Deeda Blair, Mr. Rucci received a standing ovation for his amazingly executed and fabricated day and eveningwear that was never overdone, and was marked by perfect proportions and struck a perfect balance. From the fingerless crocodile 'gloves' (which were not really gloves at all but 'hand covers'), to the chic low heeled over the knee boots that were colored and fabricated to match each outfit they were shown with (this created one beautiful, unbroken line), the effect was surprisingly youthful and achingly modern, despite the obvious luxuriousness of the fabrics (embroidered crepe, suede back golden sable, cashmere, broadtail, chinchilla, alligator, feathered tulle).

There were so many incredible outfits it's impossible to list them in a short space, but standouts were the simple yet amazing off white sheath dress that opened the show (with cut out shoulder details); an aubergine alligator knee length coat; the simply divine black broadtail sheath; the bittersweet chocolate broadtail tailleur (comprised of a fitted jacket and knee length skirt worn with brown suede over the knee boots); the black/brown matte alligator/paillette gown which was comprised of an alligator tunic over a long paillette skirt; the knitted barguzin sable pullover and stole worn with narrow aubergine paillette pants (and had the amazing simplicity of a simple cashmere sweater and wool pant). The wonderful surprise what that in addition to Mr. Rucci's ready to wear collection for fall, we were treated to his spring 2005 haute couture line, which had been scheduled for the Paris Collections in January. It was a joy and honor to be able to glimpse up close and personal the nude embroidered bodice and taupe gazaar skirt; fluted black silk jersey gown with arrestingly cut out back; gold bullion macramé and nude suede dress and coat; and black double-faced wool suspension suit. When the finale came out (traditionally thought of as 'the bride')- which in this case, was a very full yet simple ivory floral 'infanta'- one of Ralph's signature pieces, I couldn't help but think how more incredible a choice this would have been, for Melania Knauss's wedding gown, than that garish, overdone, over the top, and ultimately unflattering (yikes, that headpiece!) Dior monstrosity she settled on. Sorry Andre!

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