On Friday, Balenciaga president and chief executive officer Cédric Charbit went public with his “sincere apologies for the offense we have caused”. Demna Gvasalia posted an apology on his Instagram account. Among the many who saw this as a case of “Too Little Too Late” is Ralph Rucci, who wasted no time posting his own response to Demna:
“I am sending you this message as a DM since your public forum has been closed to save you much embarrassment. My name is Ralph Rucci, and I have worked with deep devotion within the couture métier for the past 42 years. My most significant mentor has been Monsieur Cristobal Balenciaga. I have stood by for years now and witnessed your disparaging behavior, remarks, and complete lack of acumen for his legacy. I am qualified to tell you sir, that you are utterly unqualified to be the director of this house…”– Ralph Rucci
Ralph has been consistently critical of Demna’s work and staunchly verbal in his dismay over how Gvasalia has turned Balenciaga into a running joke, conveniently using it as a “springboard for mediocrity and tastelessness.” To be fair, Ralph did praise much of Demna’s Balenciaga Fall 2021 Haute Couture Collection. Of course, the reason it was highly acclaimed because it was an obvious homage to Cristobal.
Just weeks ago, Rucci posted this comment: “Today I had to visit Bergdorf Goodman, and I stopped and was glued in my tracks in front of the boutique beginning with a B and ending with an A. Horror, Shame, completely unqualified to hide behind the name and the history. Essentially Trash jacked up by advertising dollars.
Not only is Rucci supremely qualified to criticize Demna’s work, he is also completely qualified to take over as Creative Director of Balenciaga. In fact, Rucci is the perfect person to restore honor to the house. We at Lookonline have supported Ralph over the years, and for a good reason. Ralph is an American Treasure, an exclusive unique talent, a genius who stands alone in the fashion world. He cannot be compared to anyone else. And no matter how you look at it, when it comes to Rucci, all roads lead back to Balenciaga.
There has always been a strong parallel between Balenciaga’s pure line, modernistic silhouettes, Balenciaga devotee Halston’s glamorous, ultra-modern, deceivingly simplistic creations, and Ralph Rucci’s remarkable techniques and his uncompromising vision of couture. In the ’70s, when Rucci got a job working for Halston, he was thrilled to be trained by the legendary patternmaker Salvatore Cardello. Cardello, who ran Halston’s workroom, was trained as a young boy at Balenciaga.
Rucci has received many well-deserved awards and accolades during his stellar and prolific career. He was honored with a star on the Fashion Walk of Fame, has been nominated twice by the CFDA as womenswear designer of the year, and has been the subject of two books and documentaries.
His couture gowns are part of the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, among many others.
Ralph was the first designer to be honored with FIT’s Couture Council Artistry in Fashion Award and was the subject of a retrospective, “Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness,” at the Museum at FIT in 2007. The images from this stellar exhibition, marking the 25th anniversary of Rucci’s career, speak volumes about the designer’s abundant talents.
The first American to show officially during Paris couture since Mainbocher in the 1930s. Rucci brings a unique approach to his métier combined with meticulous attention to detail and unmatched couturier techniques. The amount of handwork involved in each of his finished garments is extraordinary.
Rucci was already working with the world’s most expensive and exclusive textiles when he presented his first haute couture collection in Paris in 2002. Since the late 90s, Rucci’s use of high-quality materials has fueled the ever-increasing sophistication of his work as it accelerated his evolution as a couturier.
For this designer, it’s always an evolution, not a revolution of what he has done before. Ralph has a finely honed sense of aesthetics and a very personal, individual way of looking at and thinking about luxury. He has said that fashion is always about “eccentricity” (his customer is a woman with her own style and a certain eccentricity).
Art influences abound in fashion but as a lifelong student of art and a prolific artist and sculptor himself. Rucci is amply prepared to deconstruct his own art influences, a rarity in the fashion world.
An exacting perfectionist (and I mean that in the best possible way), Rucci has a finely honed, singular and signature aesthetic that reflects the passions and loves of his life. All of Ralph’s influences are exhibited in every facet of his life, daily: from the way he lives to the designs he creates.
I respect Ralph as a person, designer, and scholar, and I always learn something from him whenever we talk. Most importantly, Ralph has a deep emotional attachment to his chosen métier, and he would bring integrity back to the house of Balenciaga. “There is no separation between work and my life. When I am detached from it, there’s great sadness. My work puts me in the center of my existence”.
Last May, Ralph Rucci was among the Fashion Institute of Technology’s keynote commencement speakers. Before receiving an honorary doctorate degree, he shared some words of wisdom with the graduates. One piece of advice he wanted to emphasize: “There is no such thing as failure.”
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