Ralph Wondrous

Ralph Rucci’s signature fur “Spiral Coat” (Photos by Ernest Schmatolla)

Akin to the character – Gloria Wondrous – which Elizabeth Taylor played to the hilt of fabulousness in “Butterfield 8”, the provocative, sensual, abundantly gorgeous film, which portrayed Taylor’s character, as a chicly coiffed, well-dressed, high-priced “escort”, Ralph Rucci’s Fall/Winter 2010 fur grouping immediately brings to mind, by its very nature, all of Taylor’s pure beauty, coupled with all of her blatant sexuality and sexiness, not only on the big screen way back then, but for the most part, how she looked and lived, in her off-screen life.

Still, in 2010, viewing Ralph Rucci’s lush pieces in the serenity and lavish environs of his SoHo, NYC atelier, all of the designer’s thoughts about developing the collection – “bouyant, intoxicating, and seductive” – bring to mind not only more than just a few beautious, moderne coats and jackets in the new line, but also the best of Miss Taylor’s characteristics in “Butterfield 8”, which in one pivotal scene, showed her looking otherworldly and gorgeous, as the camera panned from her blue-black hair, blue-velvet eyes, and red lips, to her tight, white slip, worn underneath a very stylized, mid-calf, fur coat.

Comparable to Taylor’s overt femaleness in this scene, some of Rucci’s furs are just as “female”; just as free and just as exhilerating, best noted for their irreverent and carefree qualities, which in Rucci’s hands are well done and wide open. Detail and texture, which of course, are always prevalent across the designer’s ready-to-wear grouping, are equally as visible and key for the furs. Rucci’s signature “Spiral Coat”, made up of dyed black Russian sable, combined with just the right touches of stiff, yet billowing nylon horsehair, and worn with a pair of thigh-high, high-heeled boots, is at once cool and hot. Ditto for the mink coats and jackets, which are either bleached or knitted togehter with fox, as in the case of the Degrade knitted mink and fox tunic. More great Rucci looks: Softest champagne, belted shearling and western-inspired, rich-girl, Cameron shearling, shown with sleek black top and pants.

As for color, it seems only fitting that there is a a strong palette of super-dark, black and grey. But, also, as one would expect from a designer whose career spans nearly three decades, there are a few surprises going on, one of which is most fun, in terms of Rucci’s sudden, unexpected splotches of day-glo pink, which pop up from time to time across the grouping.

Overall, there seems to be something here for just about every luxury fur client, particularly those well-heeled ladies who love the look of glamour and charm à la the ilk of a Hollywood star, such as Miss Taylor, as she was when she played, looked and dressed the part of Miss Wondrous.

– Adrienne Weinfeld-Berg

5 Easy Pieces

(Photo: Firstview.com)

Diane Von Furstenberg is not only President of the CFDA and a veteran fashion designer, but a renowned globe trotter. In fact, she is a self avowed expert packer who has written many articles on the subject, and quite frankly, she has gotten the art of packing down to a science. Let’s face it, she put herself on the map with her original jersey wrap dress and nothing could be more perfect for packing. I can attest to that fact having worn mine on that first trip to Europe in the early 70’s and it was perfect.

(Photo: Randy Brooke)

She once made the astute observation, “When you figure out your suitcase, you figure out your life” and if you think about it; it’s so true! She has her own line of stylish suitcases, briefcases, and travel bags and always calls her cruise/pre-spring collection La Petite Valise because it’s all about creating the kind of weightless, versatile, packable, desirable must have ‘essentials’ that could easily fit into a ‘petite valise’.

(Photo: Randy Brooke)

For the short (literally and figuratively), sweet, and well edited 33 piece 2011 collection she showed Monday morning at her headquarters in the Meatpacking district, DVF eschewed some of the more riotous color schemes she has been known for in the past, and instead, focused on a very chic almost tone down palette of black and ivory (the duo was especially effective when they showed up as bold stripes and graphic patterns often mixed together), nude, grey, white, navy with touches of lime and coral (mainly seen in the sueded mules, straw visors, and several cashmere cardigans).

(Photo: Randy Brooke)

The focus was definitely on the leg thanks to ‘hot pants’, short shorts, boxers, abbreviated dresses, and of course, swimwear (both swimsuits and bikinis) and while the collection was quite feminine, thanks to her signature georgette chiffon and jersey wrap dresses and several standout blouses with balloon sleeves, it nonetheless had a sporty, ‘boy meets girl’ vibe. In fact, the ‘heart’ of the collection was to be found in variations of what one could call the perfect, essential ‘5 easy pieces’ (okay…so maybe it’s more like 6 or 7) one would need to take away on a trip to a warm weather climate, most of which are predicated on basic menswear inspired staples: 1- The classic button down shirt (hers were done in gray and white chiffon, maze cotton voile, black jersey); 2- shorts (hers came in denim, twill, dot jacquard, striped boucle, black leather, beaded chiffon); 3- the trench (shown in both a graphic black and white tropical maze chintz print as well as classic beige); 4- the t shirt (DVF’s were in silk jersey); 5- the blazer (shown in black cupro and in a jaunty navy twill suiting fabric); 6- the swimsuit (Diane offered a variety of bikinis and swimsuits, both solid and patterned), 7- and of course, the Little Black Dress which was shown in both black silk and black open work crochet knit. I guess you could say the only essential item missing were a pair of jeans but as I mentioned, the legs were on display throughout and there was not one pair of pants.

(Photo: Firstview.com)

Oh, and by the way, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of the most standout pieces on the runway were Diane’s fabulously oversized versions of the eternally chic and traditional canvas tote bag (hers were in bold black and ivory stripes and patterns and trimmed with luggage leather).

“Have bag will travel” — indeed!

-Marilyn Kirschner

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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