“I loved it,” said Padma Lakshmi, wearing a slip of a blue silk dress, as she hugged Ralph Rucci after his exceptional collection.
The designer, whose coterie of adoring clients filled his book-laden, glass-fronted studio, deserves to be labelled ‘American Fashion’s National Treasure’. For his clothes are the nearest New York gets to the elegance of haute couture.
From the white trapeze top, skirting the body, to the grand ‘Infanta’ dress in duchesse satin that closed the show, this was a tour de force.
Intriguingly, Ralph Rucci wrote his thoughts at length in the programme notes – turning his collection inside out, as it were. He talked about the “balance” of clothes, as the trapeze top formed a triangle above narrow pants.
Then there was a technique he took from his own haute couture: tubes resting on a bed of tulle. Having read the storyline, which started with a quote from the poet TS Eliot, I was expecting what those luxury watchmakers call ‘complications’.
Instead, the clothes had the artful simplicity of a master cutter: and those tubes might just be inserts at the wrists and hips of a white jacket, worn over skinny black pants.
If you define fashion designers as either architects or decorators, Rucci is a rare combination of the two, able to cut a rigorous coat, where patterns were taken from the designer’s own drawings.
The most modern piece was a shiny, transparent rain jacket, with a pink cherry-blossom pattern, worn over a white shirt and black pants.
We fashion editors are so conditioned to the idea that garments with this level of handiwork have to be ‘Made in Italy’, that it was good to hear from Ralph Rucci that everything was made in his studio in New York City.
He said it with pride.