Ralph Rucci continues to be based in New York, but he is still keeping one hand in Paris — albeit remotely.
This time around there is greater emphasis on daywear, including a few quilted ski parkas in petrol satins with fox trim and even a warm-up suit made with leather sequins and black georgette that are geared for younger clients. Tunics, pants and jackets are aplenty. There is less of an emphasis on skirts, though clients can order them.
“Except with the evening [pieces], there is nothing that really clobbers your sensibility. It’s all very intellectual because it’s about technique and the finest of fabrics,” Rucci said.
There are also fur options — sable, super sheared corduroy mink, fox and chinchilla — with the help of Pologeorgis recycled fur, an increasing trend among women in Paris, Rome and Spain, who are sporting updated versions of their mothers’ and grandmothers’ vintage furs. “A fur is redone and not re-killed. It’s a conscious way of validating and justifying the wearing and usage of fur,” said Rucci, adding that current relations with Russia have impacted the exporting of Russian sable pelts and was the impetus for repurposing pelts.
Rucci did not travel to Paris this season or last year, so that he could spend that money on renovating his apartment into a salon for clients. The new space is expected to open in a month or so. Nearing his 66th birthday — and in his 44th year in the fashion industry — Rucci said he finds that he is “a renewed boy” when he starts working on couture and connecting to a higher level of influence. “In French, there’s a word for it, ‘metier.’ It’s your existence. It’s your life.”
Rucci described Donovan as “really a visionary,” who he encourages “to loosen the fingers without getting caught up in my tension. I work as Bil works, because he’s never satisfied.”
In terms of colors, there are multiple gray flannel styles including some with white hammered satin. A near-acidic green is also in the mix, including in an evening tube dress in panne velvet that is cut on the bias. Sanguine, a reddish brown, is another vibrant hue.
One style is a “very sexy” silhouette that is biomorphically shaped with pavé insets for a slim and chic look. A short black dress made with lace, black feathers and porcupine quills is also offered in the 37-piece collection. Pricing starts at $27,000 and is slightly lower than last year to attract new customers.
All in all, “the fear of the year ahead and of the economy have definitely curtailed women of great wealth from just buying couture in America. Our largest two clients are still from Qatar,” said the designer, declining to specify how much each would spend annually.
As always, Donovan is keeping a brisk pace beyond working with Rucci as well as with Dior Beauty on different projects. The fashion illustrator will lead sketching sessions inspired by themes in “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” on July 15 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. All three 30-minute sessions have already sold out. Participants will get an inside view of his process before testing their own skills, while using some of Largerfeld’s preferred art materials. They will sketch live models clad in fashions that have been created by student designers who reference Lagerfeld’s work.