story by Charles Beckwith
photos by udor and Charles Beckwith
Seth Friedermann and I walked in backstage at the Chado Ralph Rucci Spring 2013 show and were immediately surrounded by color and wonder. Ushered up to the designer, where he was standing, smiling broadly and looking physically renewed, in the middle of his collection on dozens of huge garment racks, ready to go onto his fleet of statuesque models a few minutes later, it was like being pushed out of Kansas into Oz. I started with the most simple and complex question you can ask a designer, “what is new? What has changed from your last collection?” Mr. Rucci paused for a moment and then started to unfold the story of this new world of color he was about to unveil in the largest tent at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. . .
“You’re going to see, I think, our same almost devotion to making clothes of a certain method, that they are filled with a jubilance and honor color. But, the challenge of color, had to do with, I think, the impression you get when you close your eyes after looking at color. Memory of it. I made sure that I walked a straight line, I didn’t want to make it a commercial event. It’s like, using a color, making it strong, and then using a razor blade for cut. Very soft things also. There are three of my paintings, I went back to that. I haven’t done it in a couple years. Three paintings have been screened onto cloth, one is closing the show, and quite frankly a lot of the paintings, a lot of the color, came initially from starting to think about that line that occurs in light and space, it sounds cliche, of supernovas. That color line allowed me to explore the type of color I wanted to use, and the impression you get with color.”
Our Editor At Large, Seth Friedermann, interjected to ask, “is there any kind of a draw towards the prism effect?” “No. Good question, “said Mr. Rucci. “No, because when a color refracts from a prism it’s all primary, and I hate primary. That’s a good question.”
Seth then asked about the new collaboration with fashion business icon Jeffrey Aronsson, who recently came aboard as CEO, and if it has impacted the designer’s new work. Rather than dodging a question about his business affairs, if possible an even bigger smile appeared on his face, “Jeffrey Aronssen walking into my life was an extraordinary godsend. I was able to make this collection and not have to worry about a bill, any new business, and so it allowed me to experiment. I worked harder than I ever have on a collection, because my standard is myself; but Jeffrey is a godsend.”
This show was the most colorful we have ever seen from Mr. Rucci. He is the most dedicated artist working in garments we know today. On multiple fronts, he is consistently years ahead of almost anyone else working as a fashion designer in New York or anywhere. Each piece in the collections is a work of art on par with what you see at The Whitney or MoMA, and it is always a pleasure and a privilege to see his new work born into the world.