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story by Seth Friedermann
photos by Charles Beckwith
“When I’m asked about the clothes, I…I don’t know. I pick up from where I left off, and then I get feelings, and then it comes from here.” When Ralph Rucci said that to me, he pointed to his solar plexus, the center of his torso. He does not create from his head, he does not create from his heart, he really doesn’t even create from his soul. His body of work has expresses itself through him. Mr. Rucci has repeatedly stated that he feels no sense of ownership or possession over the unique and moving works that populate his collections. He constantly refers to his team and uses “we,” and this is done not out of modesty but for accuracy. Mr. Rucci tries always to be accurate about what he has done, how he did it, and how he feels about it.
With his return to the grand stage of the largest tent at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, there was an evident anticipation as to what he was about to do. The runway was covered with a bright white vinyl which was amplified by a giant mirror that covered the entire proscenium arch at the back of the runway.
Chado collections do indeed have a sense of continuity from season to season. He often refers to a body of work which transcends the idea of buying season collections, and his clothes are best viewed in that way.
The Spring 2012 collection continues Mr. Rucci’s refinement of many of his favored shapes and techniques. There was further exploration in his curved shoulders and sleeves which add volume and not weight, floating off of the body as if suspended.
His love of segmenting and separating fabric into plates that verge on being disjointed yet move and function as a whole was given two new twists. He used a clear plastic that created transparencies that allowed the skin to serve as another layer of color and fabric. Mr Rucci also used custom made three dimensional squares that were quilted together to create fabrics and then cut, shaped and sewn into garments that were transfixing as the individual squares retained just a touch of independence in movement as the models glide past amazed spectators. He freely experimented with plastics and latex, construction and concepts. Mr Rucci seemed to sense, as he did when he became the first American to show at Paris couture, that he needed to really harness all that makes him the best designer in America today. Fortunately for us that is something that he is always able to do.
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