The Genius in the Man – The Man of Genius

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Once in a generation-a fashion designer reveals himself to possess the unique DNA of a higher order.

Emerging from a pool of creatives–many of them brilliant–many of them talented–this designer rises as transcendent, entering a realm that is beyond and above the fray.

Into rarified air he soars beyond the multiplicity of the many, into the realm of the sublime–where evocation and execution, inspiration and construction, exacting detail and wondrous revelation, are the manifested.

The designer has–in one experience–one look, one touch of fabric–created fashion nirvana.

I was witness to that genius three years ago, when I first sat down with Ralph Rucci in his atelier. We spent hours together, looking at every fabrication, every stitch, every hem, and re-visiting the pathways to his creations–the ballet, Eastern philosophy and practices, painting and the designers and icons of the past who have inspired him.

The collection was transformative–Chado Ralph Rucci came alive–I saw anew the  symbiosis of the tactile and the ephemeral, the literal and figurative, the historical and the prescient, admixing to reach the artistic heights-in visual and kinetic art, that this designer reaches.

The only American designer invited to show his collection during Paris Haute Couture–controlled by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, part of the Fédération Française de la Couture–Rucci has maintained this haute level of workmanship, of final product, in every collection he does, every year.

With Rucci–it is the man who is the key to the process–the genius of the art reflects back on the genius of its creator.

Rucci is a complicated man–yet his designs are intricately subtle–layered with multiple symbolic, visual and historic elements–they’re at once youthful and engaging, pensive and intellectual–he is the artist who draws from an enlightened inner wellspring.  He can verbalize creation, but better yet–he can palpably manifest it, as his collection is literally born from his soul. Yet there is humour in him–he could “buy a house” with what he “spends on zippers”–as well as whimsy and joie de vivre.

In the new Ralph Rucci “Autobiography of a Fashion Designer”–which drills down to the very detail of Rucci’s atelier and his stellar apartment–which was designed by the exquisite and talented Susan Gutfreund–she of the irrepressible wit and eye for couture–and excellence in everything, and in the accompanying documentary–Rucci’s panoply of designs, his focus on artistic integrity and excruciating attention to detail, are profoundly presented. But what emerges also is the ebullience of the creations, the sheer profundity of his work, from the lineage of the great couturiers of the 20th century-to his engagement of new generations, to which his designs speak volumes.

Vogue’s Andre Leon Talley proclaims him “a master,” while Whoopi Goldberg enthuses, “I like these clothes!” and Patti Smith reflects that she is “honored he designs clothes for me.” The accolades never stop–from Martha Stewart and scores of other fashion arbiters–as well as some of the most discerning and renowned ladies in the country–couture aficionados and fashion icons New Yorkers Susan Gutfreund and Deeda Blair, to San Francisco’s sole member of the International Best Dressed Hall of Fame–social doyenne Denise Hale.

With the high praise and regard comes humanity–and as Rucci says, “the only characteristic that lets you go forth and grow…humility.”

Elisabeth Laurence
Co-Executive Producer
Lives of Style

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