The Fashion Folk S01 ep1 : Ralph Rucci, Rucci Fashion, [New York]
Interview with Ralph Rucci
I discovered people like Balenciaga, Charles James and Madam Gray, these are the three tools that I used in my career to propel me. I studied their work voraciously and then, you are talking about the mid 70's, there was a man in fashion that took those three designers and made them real and literally overnight revolutionised fashion, simplified it - and his name was Halston. So I came to New York to work at Halston .
I think there is one universal language and we are all related through our
collective unconscious that we all collectively share and participate in one
major, let just say, entity and that is our interpretation and our emotions of art.
I chose as a medium to speak through fashion, and I approach fashion as an
academic, and since I have been doing this for my entire adult life I over the
years have moved away from fashion, as we know it, because fashion, in itself
is about trend, and timely elements. You know this season it could be this and
then the next season it could be that. I don't believe in that and nor do I
participate in ideas like that. I like to be involved in a timelessness in the work
and when you get involved in that, then you are in that realm of style and
KM What is the relationship between fashion and art?
What I do is I use my own art as an artist, the way I paint and so on and I
apply it to the work or it becomes a springboard for a given season for me to
convey what is in my mind unconsciously, my concepts. And I begin with
always the same vocabulary of a couple of artists - Antonio Tapies - a very
famous Spanish artist. Robert Motherwell, Sy Twomley, Eve Daner, Joseph
Bois -these are the people that I sort of
KM: Resonate with…
Yeh I was studying philosophy in college and I came across Irving Penn
Photographs that looked like Japanese note costumes by Balenciaga and
Balenciaga is sort of a complete touchstone for me, and that is how I started.
People like Balenciaga, Charles James and Madam Gray, these are the three
tools that I used in my career to propel me. I studied their work voraciously and
then, you are talking about the mid 70's, there was a man in fashion who took
those three designers and made them real and literally overnight revolutionised
fashion and simplified it - and his name was Halston. So I came to New York
to work at Halston .
Halston had a completely conscious clarity about what he was doing. You see
he was at Bergdorf Goodman for 15 years, making hats for the most important
social ladies of the world, and he saw what they did, he saw how they dressed
and also as an employee there, Ethel Frankow who ran the custom salons at
Bergdorf, took him to Paris and he saw every major courtier collection for 15
years. So when he opened his door and called it Halston he had a grip on
what he was going to say.
KM: So he had understood…
There was no accident here, the man was pure genius.
Balenciaga gave us the vocabulary of fashion - the importance , the brilliance
of how far away from her neck a collar is cut: the proportion of a sleeve in
relation to its wrist: the explosion of colour and at the same time the drama of
the banal from his fishing village. The browns, the light blues, the greys that he
saw when he was a young boy.
Balenciaga made clear style and he taught legions. I went to work at Halston
because the man who ran his workroom Mr. Salvadore Cardello apprenticed
as a young boy with Balenciaga and he also gave us a way in which to function
as a man in fashion.
KM: What do you mean by that?
The dignity - you don't have to speak about your clients.
The first collection I did was presented formally in 1980 at the Westbury Hotel
and it was a complete homage to Balenciaga and Madame Gray and I knew
that I wouldn't be selling any of the clothes that I had just showed but I did it to
begin my own vocabulary and to test the aspirations that I had in 1980 , which
are the same ones that I am trying to fulfil right now.
The way we participate in the realm of fashion is that I work on new ways to
make and fit clothes through its seaming.
I go to mills directly to develop all of our fabrics and we only use real fibres. I
don't use synthetics. You know what Guanaco is, Guanaco is like cashmere,
and it is completely safe, it is not endangered.
KM: Yes, o.k.
And one of
KM: Like Vicuna
Right. This is sort of the chanteuse of Cashmere. One particular mill makes a
lightweight Guanaco and about 2 years ago I said could we make a heavy
coating weight in double face Guanaco? I mean the request was - are you out
of your mind. It is so expensive! But we did it and we sold it. So something is
that simple, can we just develop this with Guanaco or can we mix and make it
with mink fibre, with mink hair with double faced cashmere to soften it, to give
it a more drapey effect. There are all sorts of combinations that you could use
and have fabrics for 12 months where ability and not have it be just a winter
fabric. So I am always you know asking them to develop things like that.
KM: Do you actually do fittings yourself for your clients?
Sure - gosh yes.
KM: And what do you find… I mean…
They are so inspiring - because you get a take and you get a vocabulary on
how these clothes are being mushed into reality.
There was a fashion designer that I admired tremendously, and someone
made arrangements in the early 80's for me to have an interview, I was so
honoured to meet this gentleman, and I had just come back from Milano. I was
there as a ghost doing a collection, so I thought I looked so fantastic I had on
this camel cashmere top coat from Hermes and black leather pants, a beard,
you know a whole swange of the 80's. So anyway he comes in the room and I
stood…I was smoking a cigarette, because you chained smoked in the 80's. I
stood up and I put out my hand and I said "oh what an honour to meet you"
and the first thing he said to me was - "Are you Puertorican?".
I did not know what to do.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Ralph Rucci, Rucci Fashion, New York