I just had a close encounter with the divine. That sounds overly dramatic, but that's what it was, plain and simple. Actually, there was nothing plain or simple about it. This Collection was an example of the highest level of design; effortless, inspired and masterful. There was no point in attempting to shoot it for fear of missing the details that flooded my eyes. There was a palpable rush of excitement when the very first look came down the runway.
The setting was perfection. Abstract expressionist paintings were hung from the walls, a breathtaking sculpture stood at the end of the room with a wall of floor to ceiling mirrors casting reflections of every look and everyone in the audience. Scale is the operative word. Large paintings, huge mirrors and major design. I felt as though I was in Paris, not New York. This presentation was the way fashion should be shown. A total atmosphere that supports, elevates and celebrates the art of Couture. It was thrilling to sit there and take it all in.
There was a very clever rhythm to the show. The first looks were luxe sport. Wool jersey dresses with subtle linear patterns achieved with pin tucks came one after the other, each one a variation on a theme. That surface treatment was a leitmotif that ran through much of the collection only becoming more intricate and artful. Bias piping in contrasting organza and leather gave a third dimension to dresses, jackets and gowns. Still, this was a celebration of wool and silk jersey. A printed silk chiffon blouse over a double-faced cashmere skirt was understated luxury. From that point on the heat was turned UP.White mink reversed to black leather. Silk moire was embroidered and quilted along the water marks and then reversed to sable. As rich as that sounds , there was a quietness to it all. Nothing screamed. Nothing ever approached the crass or vulgar.
The signature looks that Ralph Rucci is known for, mind boggling ensembles of double-faced wool puzzles were in evidence. What was strikingly different was symmetrical constructions were tossed to the wind. All of the most interesting combinations were now shards, broken pieces applied to a ground of net creating abstractions. These were metaphors for the world that we live in now; chaos. There were disparate elements melded together to create something unexpected. Planes of Broadtail inlaid with horse hair in a coat, then jackets culminating in the chicest shift on the planet. It was divine. Infanta gowns were deconstructed looking like one thing coming and totally different from behind. Asymmetry in cuts, shape and surface detail made each piece a treasure. Lesage could not have done better, I'd venture to say that he had nothing to do with this work. These were the manipulations of his studio's hands. Probably, one of the most pleasing gowns came near the end. It was long sleeved with a deep V-neck made of matte black sequins over laid like fish scales. It was roughed up with most laying flat and other sections turned up. Disordered, random, uncontrolled.
When all was said and done, Fran Lebowitz said to me that she's not seen anything that came close other than YSL. She asked me why there isn't design in New York that touches this level. All I could say is that too many designers don't try as hard to make something truly unique.She also asked me why I thought Anna Wintour wasn't there. I kept my mouth shut for a change. Fran said that it was a bad form for the most important fashion editor to ignore one of the greatest talents in fashion. Again, I nodded my head and struggled to stay silent. Ralph Rucci doesn't just push the envelope, he drop kicks it into the next stadium. This was an Olympic experience.
I just wish you all could have been there. Yes, it's not for everyone but Ralph Rucci is one of the greatest national treasures we have. His legacy will live on long after we've all exited the building.