ny fashion week spring 07 by marilyn kirschner

Chado Ralph Rucci

Ralph Rucci is celebrating his 25th year in business, and he’s slated to receive the Couture Council of FIT’s first ever “Artistry in Fashion Award” this October. In his show program notes, he observed, “In my workroom as in my thoughts, there is little difference between couture and ready-to-wear. What I find most important is that we strive to create a product that is empowering and harmonious with the spiritual essence of woman”.

His spring 2007 and fall 2006 haute couture collections, shown back to back at the Bryant Park Tents, (unofficially marking the end of New York Fashion Week) were illustrative of this philosophy. Indeed, without looking at the run of show, it would be virtually impossible to tell which is ready to wear and which is haute couture. And that is precisely the point.

All of Ralph’s exquisite signatures were on display in both presentations- he is one designer who works according to his own creative force. And one comes to expect certain recurring ‘themes’ or categories from season to season. For example: the amazing texture and fabrication (this time it was to be found in his chocolate patent leather cane jacket, the braided rope chiffon dress, the black braided silk tulle and effiloches dress, and the paper faced Russian honey sable coat and serape worn over a black double faced wool crepe tunic and narrow pants embroidered with tiger eye); the reliance not only on luxurious, but rare fabrics (like matte alligator, matte python, guinea hen feathers, porcupine quill, ivory sable- which was practically white!); the pin tucked jerseys and double face crepes; the arrestingly beautiful cut out backs; the rain coats and rain suits; the fine art influence (this season it’s a Japanese scholar print); and of course, the dramatic, voluminous infantas.

While it’s impossible NOT to appreciate the creative artistry and execution behind many of the mind boggling combinations (like the dark green satin and feather trim coat worn over matte paillette fishnet pants, or the black matte alligator and gazar gown paired with a sable, alligator, and horsehair jacket), the result is such sensory overload that in retrospect, it’s the more low keyed and subtle pieces that seemed the most modern.

And at a time when so many runways here in New York referenced athletics, active sportswear, and street wear, Ralph put his own inimitably luxurious spin on the jogging suit (his is in chocolate brown paillette), jeans (his are white leather and paired with a matte python blouson; the shirtdress (his is in Russian broadtail); the sweater set (which is covered with his own freestyle script and paired with a brown matte python skirt). Happy 25th Ralph!

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