story by Seth Friedermann
photos provided by the designer
Consummate, this single word describes both Ralph Rucci and his art. Ralph Rucci’s designs possess a refined and serene feel to them. They are perfectly balanced, not solely aesthetically but in spirit as well. Viewing the Spring 2011 collection from Chado I felt as if I was reading almost as much as seeing. There was communication occurring, each dress, each jacket, each blouse was imparting a specific message. Fundamental sections such as panels and sleeves carried the same strength as the detailing, creating a sense of wholeness you rarely encounter in fashion. Mr. Rucci creates garments much like a master calligrapher who understands that the form of the symbol communicates as much as the symbol itself.
There were two primary themes woven throughout the collection, one was an exploration of translating the work of Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro through Mr. Rucci’s own art. The other was a striking waveform which was used frequently at the hem and border of pieces. The explanation of the waveform was that it was a random pattern generated from the apparel alchemists of Chado’s work room but it felt very much like another symbol of fashion as communication. The Pomodoro influence was primarily seen in small long bars of fabric that jutted into spaces traversing separate sections and panels. And in a three dimensional effect of puffed pieces that played against ribbons of negative space on many of the designs. Arnaldo Pomodoro once said of his works, “I see them as relating to borders and voyages, to the worlds of complexity and imagination.” Ralph Rucci’s designs possess a similar relationship to the complex. The elaborate nature of a raised ridge construction in some of the jacket sleeves is an excellent example. How many choices does the decision to use that shape conjure? How gentle or severe will the pitch of the ridge be? How tall will the crown of the ridge itself be? How stiff? How much volume do I want in the sleeve? How do I counter balance the vast amount of space I am creating around the arm? There are more of course but you can begin to see why art is not easy. Genius often sees too many possibilities and can not make choices. But with a Chado garment each decision is made against the need to compliment the whole and not disturb it.
The marvel of Ralph Rucci’s art is in its boldness, he creates garments of obvious complexity. You can clearly see the intricacy, the detail, the meticulousness. Yet once the design is viewed as a whole all of the machinations melt away into streamlined elegance. Yes of course in design form follows function but it rarely does so with grace. One look at this season’s version of a famous Ralph Rucci grand print dress featuring a Chinese scroll from the back of a very imposing chair and you will grasp the talent that went into the construction of the stunning gown. The effect of the dress is in many ways calculated but it is through correct choices that they are achieved with stunning simplicity This is the type of art that the house of Chado produces season after season. The Spring 2011 Chado collection by Ralph Rucci further cements the legacy of this great artist. The message of each design may be distinct to the individual pieces but when taken as a whole the effect is an ode to balance between the elegance of the simple and the intrigue of the complex.