Written By Phillip D. Johnson
Runway Images By Ron Douglas
I have said before and I will say it again: NEW YORK FASHION WEEK can be an eight-day continuous battle of will and a test of how much crap—I would have used another more appropriate word but we are a family-based media outlet here—you are willing to put up with just to do your job. So you REALLY need something to look forward to, something that makes it all worthwhile. For me, it’s a small group of shows that starts with the CHADO RALPH RUCCI show at LINCOLN CENTER.
This is what I know for sure: I know that I will be seeing quality designs coming down the runway, therefore I am never disappointed with his collections. I know that while he’s not one to stray too far from what’s he’s known for, he will nevertheless move the needle forward and give us something new and beautiful to get excited about. I know that you will not have issues at the front of house because Mr. Rucci runs a classy and low-stress operation from front of house to backstage. You will see beautiful (and full retail-paying) women (New York Socialites, and clients from across the United States and Europe) proudly wearing their Ruccis; but unlike other designers who has less confidence in their collections, they weren’t paid to be there. These women are hopelessly devoted to Mr. Rucci.
Moreover, Ralph Rucci is a true couturier and it shows. He’s one of the few designers showing in New York that can deliver a spine-tingling collection that is at once fresh and thought-provoking, while still being very covetable and wearable. This past September at Lincoln Center was no exception to this rule.
Long before September, Mr. Rucci announced some moves that signified a new attitude at the HOUSE OF RUCCI, including the arrival of industry veteran (new Chief Executive Officer JEFFREY ARONSSON) to take over new business strategy development for the house, to lead the Chado label to even more international brand success.
For Spring/Summer 2013, Mr. Rucci was full of surprises. There were fewer “Classic Ruccis” on the runway but they were replaced with some of the most beautiful, youthful and lightweight pieces he has ever done in the 30+ years he been designing for his own house. He has taken all the artisanal techniques and exquisite handwork—in a spare and sporty direction—his studio is known for to create a collection that was easily one of the best collections shown anywhere in New York City that week.
He normally works primarily in black & white and more “sedate” tones but for spring/summer 2013, there was a gorgeous burst of color on his runway, bright, neon colors that send the message that he’s on the move. The spectrum of color include shocking pink, coral, grass green, citrus yellow and lemon, all smartly (sometimes) paired with white and black pieces. As with all his collections, there are no “filler” pieces here. He’s a ruthless self-editor, therefore everything you see earned the right to be there. The show opened with a “classic” Rucci black suit but with a black patent and silk faille jacket. He followed that with a sleeveless tank top paired with a multi-layered chiffon wrap pants, a shocking pink and white short trench coat and a crisp white silk faille raincoat.
From then on, it was a feast of color that was entirely unexpected but oh-so right for Mr. Rucci: a Chrome (yellow) silk rain jacket, a citrus ultra-suede cocktail-length dress, a shocking pink double face wool crepe dress and jacket, a coral double face wool crepe dress and coat with ribcage detailing and the most lightweight of lightweight yoke neckline shocking pink silk dress. The fabrication and detail work (elaborate and beautiful), hand-painted silks, ostrich feather puffs, giant ball skirts, and body-conscious cut-outs trimmed in neon highlights were all part and parcel of what makes this collection so memorable. No matter if the outfit was sportswear- or cocktail/evening-oriented, everything was crisp and pared down to its essential essence.
For all-out, full evening dressing, Mr. Rucci pulled out all the stops: a shocking pink bugle beaded and feather dress, a black silk tank top paired with a hand painted (probably from one of Mr. Rucci’s paintings) silk gazaar** ballskirt, a gorgeous long-sleeve top and multi-colored taffeta ballgown and ending with a black patent and hand painted satin column gown.
For accessories, the models wore tiny fingerless PVC gloves (by SAMANTHA NGUYEN FOR CHADO RALPH RUCCI), delicate heels (most with clear PVC upper vamps, MANOLOA BLAHNIK FOR CHADO RALPH RUCCI), and decidedly understated jewelry by ELSA PERETTI. The makeup by TOM PERCHEUX and the MAC PRO TEAM was a clean face with a dramatic eye accentuated with a touch of red/neon pink around the eyes. It may look simple but it takes a lot to achieve such flawless simplicity, much like Mr. Rucci’s designs.
**(a silk or wool plain weave fabric made with high-twist double yarns woven as one that has a crisp hand and a smooth texture.)