Let's start at the bottom and work our way up. If God is in the details, then this experience was like hanging out in heaven for a few moments. The floor was covered as the hordes massed. When all were seated the guys who run the show peeled away the plastic covering the runway to reveal a plexi-glass surface with the shade of nude emanating from below its surface. I can't speak for others but from that moment I sensed I was in for something special. Had there been seat belts I'd have buckled myself in and pulled the strap tight. The lights dimmed and from the far end where the models emerged was a wall of mirror fractured into squares. It didn't so much distort as it presented different elements of the room, the models and clothes with a simultaneity. The room, the runway and the crowd was huge. I almost wondered how one could command a space so vast and then remembered which show I was about to see. The sound system started and Bolero filled the air. Anyone with two eyes, 2 ears and a heartbeat knows that that music takes you from point A to Z and beyond. Knowing that he would in essence play with this audience of devotees by sending out a parade of ideas one building on the other, creating a tension through complexity, easing up on that tension through color, shape, detail and then build an even greater tension. It was not lost on me that the palette was almost all white in the opening with shards of silver in python and crystal embroideries. White is the black of the heavens. The collection was a study in light. From the weight of things, to the shapes and their movement, the surfaces and the overall intention behind them he seemed to be at ease. Ralph Rucci may struggle like many of us to keep the business grounded, viable and alive. At his level it must be very stressful, but you'd never know it to look at this collection. A work this profound must be born in a certain degree of anguish but the result was nothing short of joyous. Here is a man who has discovered many secrets to beauty. His signature techniques with double faced wool, the seaming and insertions that were for the most part clear plastic and tulle were bravura displays of technique. Where they had once been little tension points they now are curving, roaming lines that define shapes, reveal expanses of skin making planes of fabric, exquisite matelasse in particular, appear to be held together by air. The embroideries in crystal were so minute that they were almost microscopic. The surface of things in the world of Chado is misleading. What appears to be solid or sheer is more than likely a combination of thousands of smaller worlds joined together to create positive and negative space. There was magic to the experience with clothes that presented one picture as they approached and a completely different one as they passed by receding into the void. A column of wool in white revealed a cerise paillette gown enfolded from behind. There was as much or more interest in many of the looks from the back view. His Infanta gowns which are heady numbers on the best of days were almost stripped of all of their structure. They were beautiful examples of intricate dress making with none of the stuffing or stuffy about them. In all of the collection's intensity and complex techniques Ralph Rucci made it all look easy. The audience paid close attention to everything that passed in front of them. From his wealthy clients, to the editors and the rest of us, there was an atmosphere of intense interest and appreciation. The chatter was all about the incredible things he shared with us with pointing and audible sighs all around. The music grew to its climax and just like a precision instrument the clothes built to their inevitable crescendo. The lights came up over a room full of dazed and delighted pilgrims. Then the roar of a standing ovation 1000 strong. Pretty heady stuff. I would imagine when one has gone the distance season after season blood and sweat is no longer the issue. Going from A to Z is his warm-up and infinity, his destiny.
* check out Style.com, but better go to YouTube. there you see front and back views and the movement is everything.
On the Street…The Fortezza, Florence
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