Written by Phillip D. Johnson
Runway Images provided by Rosina Rucci
Everyone already knows that Ralph Rucci is the king of obsessing over the smallest details within his designs. With each new collection, he strives to be as close to perfection as he can get and he often achieves it. It’s often said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks but –with no offense to Mr. Rucci– he’s an “old dog” that not only demonstrates new tricks each season, he also guides others to new levels of sophistication in their own designs. Truth be told, he’s forgotten (and improved upon) more design tricks than the average New York-based designer even has in his or her arsenal– and he’s only just begun.
(In fact, while it would be foolish to say that he owns the patent on any one design concept, I found clear examples of the Rucci Style in several other collections at Lincoln Center, where the cut of a jacket or the fit of a pant took my mind right back to the master himself. )
There has been a lot of changes in the Ralph Rucci world recently: The studio/showroom/office moved to a new location, a new CEO came onboard, improved backroom operations, a new furniture collection with Holly Hunt (https://fashionpluslifestyle.wordpress.com/2013/06/26/holly-hunt-launches-ralph-rucci-collection-for-holly-hunt/), new outside investment in the brand and talk of a Ralph Rucci fragrance (about time!). But the surest signs that there’s sustained growth (especially on the design front) is the way in which he has managed to growth as a designer without losing sight of the brand’s DNA or its core customer base). Within the last three years, he has set his sights on attracting a younger client base and his 2013 Fall/Winter collection was where it all came together in its most glorious bloom.
This was the collection where he gave full flight to his imagination and served up one of the top ten best collections all week. Although he opened the show with his usual black pieces, it was the wonderful grouping of mink coats and jackets in yellow, pink, violet, white mink and feathers, black mink & feathers, chartreuse that set the tone for the rest of the show. He has been embracing color for a long time now but the last three collections (including this one) is where he has thrown down the gauntlet and banished the boring. We know that the average twenty-something will not wear her mother’s blah black mink BUT a shocking pink mink coat with a fitted, modern cut, well, that’s another story altogether.
He was equally as enamored with purple this season and showed the color in a variety of sable coats, suits, separates and some killer lace eveningwear pieces. While another designer might have run the theme into the ground, that was not the case here because Mr. Rucci interspersed all those beautiful purple pieces throughout the collection, allowing your eye to appreciate it all without the potential for overkill or visual (negative) overload. The scattered hits of chartreuse were also a nice, light touch.
He also gave the ladies-who-used-to-lunch-but almost-never-eats some majorly out-of-the-box food for thought with his knitted tunics (and twin sets) paired with jewel toned pallazzo pants (See below). Mr. Rucci doesn’t normally do “disco glitterball” but if he’s going to go that route, it’s going to be spectacular. And it was.
This was also a season where the issue of racial diversity on the runway became a hot topic (again!) from New York all the way into the Paris shows. According to Jenna Sauers of Jezebel (http://jezebel.com/5985110/new-york-fashion-weeks-models-are-getting-whiter), “This season, 151 New York designers’ shows were covered by Style.com. Those shows presented 4479 individual women’s wear “looks” to buyers and press, representing 4479 opportunities for a model to walk the runway or pose in a presentation. 3706 of those looks, or 82.7%, were this season shown on white models. Asian models nabbed 409, or 9.1% of all the runway looks. Black models were hired for 271, or 6%. Non-white Latina models had 90 looks, or 2%. Models of other races wore 12, or 0.2% of all looks….That means this season, around 9% of all NYFW shows had all-white casts. That’s up slightly from last season, when only 6% of shows had only white models. For comparison, in 2007, one-third of NYFW shows were all-white.” Believe me when I say that for many people at Lincoln Center and at other fashion week venues around town, it was a problem.
To his credit, Mr. Rucci has always shown a widely diverse group of models on his runways from the very beginning of his career as a solo designer and he has consistently done so while still being true to his vision. (It also helps that he hires a casting director that doesn’t have his or her head up her ass who’s putting forth their own agenda above those of the designer.) The point here is that he may be design-obsessed but he sees the bigger picture, knows his customer and the world we live in and strives to make it a better place all around.