New York Fashion Week Notes

Ralph Rucci’s ‘Unfinished’ Symphony

 Barnett Newman leather shell & coat, black silk crepe Embrace pant
(All photos – click images for larger views)

The thought process, conception, execution, and painstaking detail that goes into a Ralph Rucci creation, is indeed mindboggling, and each collection builds upon what has been presented before, going back to 1980 to be exact. It is a true evolution: a work in progress, and Ralph views each new collection as a new beginning from where he previously left off (he loves the idea that the work in progress represents something ‘unfinished’….something to be continued, as it were).

Yellow Vibration jacket, yellow Embrace double face crepe pant

Because the emphasis is on the precise cut and extraordinary workmanship, the clothes really need to be seen close up and personal in order to be fully appreciated, and as such, his chic and intimate 26th street atelier, where spring 2015 was presented yesterday, could not have been a more perfect and fitting venue. Speaking of getting intimate and personal, even Ralph’s program notes were quite raw and personal this time around: he added his own thoughts, remarks, insights, and notations with regards to every facet of the collection- and helped direct the eyes of the show attendees, through his own words, to where he wanted them to be. The only thing missing was his own handwriting.

Matte jersey and paillette dress

It was not just the showroom that was used to accommodate the large and loyal crowd that included Whoopi Goldberg, Andre Leon Talley, Joan Kaner, Deeda Blair, Pat Cleveland, Ken Downing, Suzie Menkes, Linda Fargo, Glenda Bailey, Iris Apfel, Margaret Russell, Marylou Luther, and Hamish Bowles, but the entire space, including the reception area, and the workroom, complete with long work tables, spools of thread, bolts of fabric, sketches, and swatches. Most workrooms are hidden away in the back and off limits to all but a few, but apparently, Ralph has nothing to hide. In fact, quite the opposite: he relishes the sexy rawness, nakedness, and transparency of it all. I guess you can say this is symbolic of his work (you can easily turn his clothes inside out and they would look just as amazing), and specifically, his obsession and love affair with the human body, which he loves to celebrate and display (but always in the most tasteful way of course). It’s always this “yin & yang” constant “struggle for balance” (volume vs. narrow; sexy vs. austere; bare vs. covered up; minimal vs. embellished; solid vs. patterned), that is evident in his work.

Black silk crepe gown with pintucked tulle insets

Getting back to transparencies, they have always been a Ralph Rucci signature (they are his “favorite challenge”, along with making clothes as weightless as possible). He met the challenge head on this season by introducing weightless transparencies of pin tucked tulle: the pin tucking makes the sheer tulle stronger. Ralph always loves an element of surprise, beginning with the opening pieces whose silhouettes appeared to be cut with “razor blades”. He always loves the surprise of an arrestingly beautiful back, and this time around, that would be his pale grey silk crepe and paillette gown that was covered up in front, but had an amazing cut out back. The spring collection also emphasized a surprising technique he calls, “Vibrations” which he had first arrived at for the Haute Couture in Paris several years ago and was proud to say that he could apply this on a modified level, to ready to wear, as he showed yesterday.

Printed duchess satin skirt, embellished bra with printed chiffon shirt

Other standouts in the collection were the group of graphic day dresses and leathers. Their defined black lines channeled the Japanese Kabuki and were based on the work of Barnett Newman, an American artist considered to be one of the major figures in abstract expressionism (and one of the foremost color field painters). Paintings and artwork also figured prominently in the group of evening dresses which were painted, screened onto different fabrics, and in some cases, embroidered (Ralph is an accomplished artist himself so art is always a major inspiration and jumping off point for his collections). He ended the show with the austere and dramatic Black Duchess Satin Infanta, which as he previously noted, he had not made in six seasons. To be continued….

The Daily
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Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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