Contrasts...

Contrasts...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of attending the FGI tastemakers lunchon in midtown...where Ralph Rucci was being interviewed by Andre Leon Talley.

It was fun, I met Susan there so the company was great, the food excellent, and the people watching fabulous (Chanel and Rucci wall to wall!)

and that would have been that, not another thought spared,  had it not been for the odd nature of the interview.

Andre Leon Talley dominated the hour or so, (if you've ever seen him in an interview, that's not so out of character)  and it was very entertaining and interesting, because he really has lived the most facinating life, but it did meant that Ralph Rucci got very little time to speak.

and we left wondering what on earth was going on...

and then this morning I read the article below in the WWD, and I could not stop thinking about the contrasts of my month.

Having just spent two weeks in a country where couture is revered and honored without regard to the bottom line,   I find this to be a very sad reflection on where we are heading....

If somebody with as much proven talent as Rucci can't create or finance his vision anymore without merchandising his name, what hope does the next generation have?

 

 

November 18, 2014

Ralph Rucci Honored at FGI Tastemakers Luncheon

from WWD issue 11/19/2014 DOWNLOAD PDF

By Rosemary Feitelberg

 

 

NEW YORK — Less than a week afterRalph Rucci unexpectedly exited his company, the designer was honored Tuesday at the Fashion Group International’s annual Tastemakers Luncheon at Le Cirque.

Before a far-ranging conversation with André Leon Talley, Rucci said he has decided on his next career move, but he is not yet able to disclose it. The designer said he expects to do so in the next few weeks. “I’m not really having a break. If your mind works in one way for so many years, there’s no such thing –– in terms of shifting the perceptions, yes. This is a shift in perception, you know there’s a difference,” he said. 

While running errands in the Garment District last week, Rucci said he passed by his FGI Walk of Fame star on Seventh Avenue at 39th Street, which happens to be near those of Halston, his first boss, and James Galanos, “his best friend and mentor.” “And it wasn’t planned,” Rucci added.

After his talk with Talley, Ozy consultant Constance White asked Rucci why he left his label. “Because I needed to take a step into the future to put perspective in the past, so that I can redo the future,” he said to much applause.

Earlier in the program, Rucci told the crowd, “I do what I have to do. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, it’s their prerogative. I have devout faith that I do not do this alone and my work and my offering is tied up with a very strong spiritual well and I am clearly the conduit. That is why I’m convinced so many clients respond to the clothes. I am also convinced that might be a way that fashion can evolve in the future.”

Rucci was clear about his own likes and dislikes. Recalling how in 1975, Elsa Peretti could create excitement by walking into a room in a cashmere bodysuit and carrying a brown paper bag, Rucci said, “I live for moments like that and trying to create moments like that by what I design. It’s not particularly mass market, but it trickles down in certain ways. And I am convinced it will trickle up in a way of presenting one’s self, first and foremost in fashion with a tremendous amount of kindness and humility because our profession and individuals are losing sight of that: without humility, there really is no style. None.”

Rucci did give high marks to such favorite muses as Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes,Deeda Blair and Patti Smith, who Pope Francis has invited to sing at the Vatican. “So I have been whispering in her ear,” Rucci said. “What to wear!” Talley interjected. 

Talley also regaled the crowd by telling them how, after taking Whoopi Goldberg to her first fashion show, one of Rucci’s, “Six weeks later, she had ordered about 11 pieces and she paid for them...OK. She even responded to a black horizontal band mink coat, sable with horsehair.” 

As for what he thinks are the biggest hurdles with personal relationships in the fashion industry, Rucci said, “Approach them all with kindness. That’s the one thing. Practice it. Love it. That’s all. That’s what gets you success and nothing else.” 

Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo sized up Rucci’s success in a different way. “In Ralph Rucci, we have an actual true original. Very often that is an idea that gets thrown around a lot, but to actually be an original, which means to invent something that didn’t exist before, a language, a vernacular, his spine vertebrae detailing, the way he has separated seams, clothes that look like they’ve got body but they are lighter than air –– all of these things are not easy.”

Afterward, Rucci’s fit model Coco Mitchell, who, until four years, ago walked in all of his runway shows, also spoke of his meticulous approach, which often called for 15-hour fittings. “Doing things with Ralph, I don’t know, was like making a movie. We bonded,” she said.

 

 and from the Philly.com

Mirror, Mirror: Ralph Rucci is out, tragic news for his ethereal brand

Elizabeth Wellington November 19, 2014 3:01 Am

Ralph Rucci - the South Philadelphia-bred clothing designer at the helm of possibly the world's most exclusive couture fashion house - relinquished the reins of his eponymous label to investors this month, walking away from his 33-year-old women's wear line revered in the style world, yet virtually unknown outside it.

That disconnect from the mainstream is what ultimately led to Rucci's apparent ousting. But how will his brand flourish without its founding soul?

It is unclear. No one involved - including Rucci, company representatives, or even the stores that sell his brand - would talk specifics. But his story remains an example of how difficult it is to remain relevant and true to your principles in an ever-changing fashion landscape.

As for Rucci, 57, who lives in New York now, he will "pursue other creative endeavors," according to a press release issued by the company. There are endless options for such a genius.

He's an avid painter: His ethereal, inspired-by-nature drawings were regularly featured on his collections, eliciting applause, and standing ovations, from a powerful front row that often included Martha Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg, Wolfgang Puck, and Hamish Bowles, European editor of Vogue magazine.

And nearly two years ago, Rucci collaborated with furniture designer Holly Hunt to create a 16-piece collection, some of which corresponded to dresses that once appeared on his runways.

But like Rucci's crepe dresses and liquid pantsuits that cost thousands of dollars, his furniture didn't win over the masses, either.

In his absence, the pre-fall and fall 2015 collections will be designed in-house, and the company will hire a new creative director in time to design the 2016 resort collections scheduled to debut in June.

For the time being, Joey Laurenti, who came on board in May as the company's chief executive officer, will oversee the house's day-to-day productions. Previously, Laurenti, who is in his 30s, was the CEO of Goods & Services, a New York multibrand contemporary showroom. At the same time, Laurenti also was the director of sales for Opening Ceremony, an edgy New York gallery and retail space for emerging designers.

It makes sense that the company's investors, New York power couple Howard and Nancy Marks, would want to bring the Ralph Rucci brand to a broader audience. His target market had historically been women who were extremely wealthy but under the radar.

But Rucci's exit from the business he built through determination, skill, and more than a hint of stubbornness is tragic. Nancy Marks, a longtime client who is serving as the company's chair, will be hard-pressed to find a designer of Rucci's caliber.

Fashioned from crepe, wool, jersey, alligator, and even horsehair, Rucci's collections - once called Chado Ralph Rucci, after a Japanese tea ceremony - were so exquisitely clean and minimal, they looked like they could float. In 2007, the Fashion Institute of Technology hosted "Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness," celebrating 25 years of Rucci's work. Rucci's pieces are in the permanent costume collections of both the Metropolitan and Philadelphia Museums of Art.

Once a student of Halston, Rucci mastered signature techniques such as piping on tulle, circular pintucks, and his trademark: suspending pieces of fabric within a garment using his special wormstitch. The suspension created slim cutouts that gave older women a touch of sexy.

In 2002, Rucci became the first American-born designer invited to present in Paris' haute couture shows since Main Rousseau Bocher in the 1930s. By 2007, he was refusing to show his collections in New York because he didn't appreciate the paltry coverage he was getting from the fashion press.

That hints at his steely personality and immovable will, which was a plus in some ways. For instance, he was among the first designers to use an African American as a fit model. And before it was in vogue, he insisted that as much of his collection as possible be made in America.

But that same stubbornness caused his brand to suffer. Unlike the late Oscar de la Renta, Rucci never figured out how to reach everyday fashionistas who couldn't afford a gown, sable, or suit, but could splurge on a pair of sunglasses. In today's saturated market, designer collaborations and licenses fund the couture part of businesses.

And Rucci absolutely refused to lend his red-carpet-worthy gowns to celebs during awards season. Rucci's loyalties, he often said, were to the women who paid full price, and he would not cheapen his brand. Of course, without the name recognition that comes from red-carpet interviews and post-red-carpet dish, Rucci never joined Carolina Herrera or Dior in the modern-day fashion designer lexicon.

After the recession began in December 2007, shoppers focused less on luxury and more on mixing the high with the high-low. Rucci, who once told me he was recession-proof, struggled to pay his staff. He canceled runway shows.

Three years ago, the Markses invested in the company. That same year, Jeffry Aronsson, CEO of the Aronsson Group, a firm that specializes in helping distressed fashion brands, assumed the role of CEO.

Since then, celebs Julianna Margulies and Faith Hill were photographed in his gowns. Aronsson lowered prices, too, 40 to 50 percent, so the least expensive gowns were about $2,500. In 2013, Chado was dropped from the moniker, perhaps to be more approachable.

That June, storied fashion photographer Steven Meisel shot Rucci's first-ever ad campaign, producing two-page spreads that appeared in magazines including W and Harper's Bazaar.

Then as quietly as Aronsson came on to the Rucci scene, he left. Aronsson declined to comment for this article.

By February, Rucci's sister Rosina, his public relations manager and all-around keep-the-company-together person, retired.

Rucci joins a handful of other high-end designers who have left their namesake companies recently: Roland Mouret, John Galliano, Alessandro Dell'Acqua, and Jil Sander.

In the case of Ralph Rucci, the brand is now free to grab all the fashion spotlight it can. But it won't be authentically Ralph Rucci.

That's a shame.

 

Gratitude = giveaways...websites and sewing...

Gratitude = giveaways...websites and sewing...

Paris - Part 3 ... Parasolerie Heurtault, and Janssens and Janssens...

Paris - Part 3 ... Parasolerie Heurtault, and Janssens and Janssens...