Man On a Mission

Ralph Rucci is a man on a mission, one to introduce his Fall/Winter 2012 collection and dispel his image as a couture designer. In other words, to take the haute out of couture and reintroduce Chado Ralph Rucci as “Made in America” ready-to-wear.

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The designer, who studied art and philosophy at Temple University is reintroducing himself and showing the new collection to the fashion press. He sat down during fashion week to talk about the collection, his inspiration and his intent to introduce the brand to a new crop of customers. The current Chado Ralph Rucci’s constituency includes poet and performer, Patti Smith, best dressed socialite Deeda Blair and entrepreneur, Martha Stewart, which he “takes as the highest compliment” maybe due in part to advice from storied Vogue editrix, Diana Vreeland, who counseled “Give them what they don’t have.”

Inspired by nomadic tribes and anthropology and the unlikely inspiration of skulls and skeletons for print direction this season, the fifty-four piece collection is comprised of suits, dresses for day and evening and for the first time a simple, but perfectly fit white shirt and a beautifully constructed black leather skirt. “There are pieces purposely put into the collection to be price conscious”, says Rucci, to appeal to a new customer with a streamlined lifestyle, while maintaining the essential elements and integrity of the detail oriented line.

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The collection plays to Rucci’s strengths – shapely and beautifully constructed garments – for a woman who appreciates it’s balance of form, function and art. This collection is predominately black for day and more so for evening. “It’s what looks right and feels right.” says the designer, given the mood of fashion and the collection’s concept. There is color, evident in a cosmetic toned dusty pink, double-faced wool suit with shaped front jacket and trapunto detailing, as well as a striking cinnabar red, that the designer favors and a rich russet both infusing the collection with color richness.

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Not abandoning his penchant for beautiful investment apparel, the line is infused with one of the season’s key elements, fur and fur touched jackets and coats. Even here the designer is conscious of the needs of his customer’s demands, re-inventing a sable coat to be worn three ways. A striking black shell and a sable interior, is stitched to the aforementioned scull print fabric for a look that is at once ageless and individual.

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Evening, an essential part of the collection is handled with equal attention to technique and simplicity of design. A black feathered tiered gown is surplice cut then bias tied on a tulle base with graduating levels of sheer lengths. Every feather is individually tied down, a technique the designer hasn’t employed in quite awhile to achieve the slimming tiered effect. Not into feathers? The designer offered a duo of little black dresses, an understated strapless column with hand knotted ribbon ties and decorative hem with bronze caviar and jet beads and a full skirted ribbon cut beauty, which speak to the quiet elegance of the brand.

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As the designer enters into a new fashion era, he thought back to his reasons for getting into the business and his entry into fashion. While finishing his studies at F.I.T, the ’20-ish Rucci convinced his sister Rosita to accompany him to iconic and revolutionary fashion designer Halston’s atelier to purchase an outfit, so that he could strike up an alliance with the house vendeuse. Rucci landed a spot in the made to measure salon, trained under Halston, (who in turn had trained under famed designer Balenciaga and Rucci hero) and the rest as they say is history.

–Tricia Kenney

Tricia Kenney is an independent fashion editor, writer and marketer whose work has appeared in national consumer and trade publications. For ten years she was a creative director at Creative Marketing Plus, where she won two Communicator Awards. She has been a fashion editor at Glamour Magazine and a Fashion Director at Macy’s. A native New Yorker, Kenney is a frequent commentator on fashion, lifestyle and culture.



Ernest Schmatolla is publisher of Lookonline since 1994. It is the longest running fashion site on the Internet.

  1. Great story and more importantly superb photos!
    I'm honored to know Udor Photography!

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