Ralph Rucci is a maestro, a designer par excellence whose canvas is the imagination, whose palate is a universe of colours, textures and designs, and whose audience is… the world.
We have known Ralph Rucci for six years—through our dear friend, San Francisco socialite and Best Dressed Hall of Famer Denise Hale. And we share another darling friend of ours—New York’s stunning social doyenne, Susan Gutfreund.
We have been privileged to spend hours with Ralph Rucci in his atelier, interviewing him, watching him sketch, discussing art and history, painters and designers, philosophers, society and creativity.
The man—the creative—the innovator, had the DNA of greatness in him from the start—but it burgeoned and exploded into stardom when he began his own label.
Before then, Ralph Rucci—who was born and raised in Philadelphia, was graduated from Temple University with a major in Philosophy, and then the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), then trained under the master, Halston, and a Balenciaga patternmaker—immersed himself in knowledge, of the world, of thoughts, of art and design.
Rucci had his first formal show at New York’s Westbury Hotel in 1981, but it wasn’t until over a decade later, in 1994, that he established his own label: “Chado Ralph Rucci” choosing the name of the ancient Japanese tea ritual which symbolizes respect, tranquility, grace and integrity – the same elements with which he approaches his work.
From the beginning of his career, Rucci was inspired by the style of such fashion icons as Elsa Peretti and Pauline de Rothschild.
Rucci’s influences also include the painters Cy Twombly, Franz Kline, Antoni Tàpies and Francis Bacon, sculptor Louise Nevelson, Japanese symbolism, and the designer James Galanos.
It is rare to find a fashion designer who is also a sculptor and a painter—and one who creates his own fabrics, and fabrications, but Rucci has these skills and more, using ivory satin or black velvet to make jackets that stand away from the body.
Rucci’s art has been exhibited in art galleries throughout the U.S. His paintings–shown at the Serge Sorokko Gallery in San Francisco, in December, 2012, were described by Architectural Digest as “enigmatic works… bearing sweeping brushstrokes that are collaged, here and there, with scraps of silken fabrics.”
In 2002, Rucci became the first American designer in more than 60 years to be invited to show in Paris by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture—the only one who had his own line at the time—and he showed his haute couture collections in Paris for the next five seasons.
In 2007 Rucci was honoured with a retrospective exhibit at the Museum at FIT titled, “Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness,” and he’s been the subject of two documentaries, including 2012’s “A Quiet American: Ralph Rucci & Paris.”
Today, Rucci—for his eponymous line “Ralph Rucci,” without the “Chado,” works with Europe ’s finest embroidery houses and fabric mills, developing new fabrics and prints that incorporate his own artwork.
“In my workroom, as in my thoughts, there is little difference between couture and ready-to-wear,” says Rucci. “What I find most important is that we strive to create a product that is empowering, and harmonious with the spiritual essence of a woman.”
His work was last seen on the red carpet for the 66th annual Emmy Awards, where he designed a stunning, elegant white gown worn by “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi.
Rucci is a creative force of nature—yet with all his accolades and successes, he is a modest man who is respected and loved for the essence of his persona.
The creativity he takes as a gift—and uses it well.
We are grateful to call him a friend and can’t wait to see what he has in store for Spring-Summer 2015.
Follow us on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter to win prizes! And check out more at The Last Word.