new york autumn winter 07/08

Chado Ralph Rucci
by Marilyn Kirschner

This has been quite a year for Ralph Rucci. This past October, he was awarded the "Artistry in Fashion Award" by the Couture Council of FIT (the first of its kind), and he concurrently celebrated his 25th anniversary in business. In January, a retrospective of his work "Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness" opened at the Museum at FIT drawing quite the crowd the night of the preview. His fall 2007 ready to wear and spring haute couture collections were shown together at the Tent in Bryant Park, officially ending the week. As always, it's a wonderful high (and consistent) note on which to end the week of showings (some good, some bag, some ugly).

The inspiration behind Ralph's recent work is Louise Nevelson (specifically the curving shapes found in her collages), and this translated into a black wool crepe jacket and skirt, a white wool crepe dress and circlet, a chrome yellow tunic and skirt, and a Nevelson collage strapless gown in white worn by Alek Wek with pearl straps suspended from the shoulder (on the haute couture line). But more than a specific artist, it is the couturier's lifelong passion for art and architecture, combined with his ongoing challenge to reach perfection in cut and execution that marks his work which is an evolution of what has followed, rather than a complete change or about face.

In addition to some of the most beautiful and deceivingly simple jersey dresses given surface interest through 'bas relief' overstitching (which was brilliant!), there was a decidedly 'sporty' vibe throughout. This was seen in the oversized copper satin parka which was lavishly lined with golden sable, and a cinnabar satin pantsuit with an elongated jacket over narrow pants, was given pronounced cargo pockets, and a thin white lamb coat which was faced in white satin and given a drawstring waist. A beautifully fitted jacket (cut like an elegant hacking jacket with a back belt) was made out of alligator printed velvet. For evening, Ralph used macramé to trim a black strapless hammered satin gown and alligator to add dimension to a script organza gown. Haute Couture, like ready to wear, was very textural and all about fabric mixes. A silk raincoat was braided in white, tan, brown leather and a tulle jacket and dress were re-embroidered with raffia. One sweet note..Ralph's dad was on hand to witness his son's accomplishments and to help celebrate the moment. He was smiling from ear to ear and it's easy to see where Ralph gets his wonderfully sweet disposition from.

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