Ralph Rucci discusses the ups and downs of couture – WWD

Ralph Rucci didn’t travel to Paris this season for haute couture, but he did launch his fall collection.

Although there was no staged show or presentation, Rucci timed the unveiling to be in keeping with the spirit of the season. The New York designer hopes to return to the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode in January.

Noting that the federation requires that at least 25 creations be made to participate, Rucci said he pulled out because he couldn’t afford to meet that quota and do a show in Paris. As was the case last season, Rucci worked with an illustrator to develop watercolors of his designs. “People loved it. As for the customers, that becomes another alluring element,” Rucci said, adding that last season’s orders were mostly based on the sketches as they were conceived versus requests for slight variations.

Referring to the most recent couture shows, he said: “We’re back to pay to play. Those front rows were filled with paid personalities [to attend]. You haven’t seen customers in the front rows… the people – and houses – looking for publicity are part of the history of paid play. If you show up with your press officer and you’re followed by photographers, you’re not paying for the clothes,” Rucci said, adding that many couture clients prefer not to be seen so people don’t know. not how much they spend.

“I love giving things away, but I never give anything for publicity – never have,” Rucci added.

The fall collection includes a sleeveless dress in leather with a jewel collar embroidered with two designs, with a structure on the skirt. A “cream puff” type tunic in amorphous duchess satin paired with a narrow flared evening skirt with hand-stitched grosgrain ribbon inserts on silk organza is another favorite design this season, Rucci said. .

Noting how a couture suit without any embroidery from a European house can in some cases start at $125,000, Rucci said his prices — which start at $25,000 and go up depending on the handcrafts, embroidery and craftsmanship. fur – are “more reasonable”, despite the same process of selecting a design, making a canvas, doing fittings, creating a basted garment before the final garment is made. With some designer ready-to-wear suits selling for $35,000 in specialty stores, “luxury ready-to-wear has become so expensive that there’s more sense to the logic of high fashion, not only handmade garments at the level of perfection which is striking but the price structure is understood,” he said.

Once again, Rucci worked with fashion illustrator Bil Donovan to create a look book. Photography and production were handled by 26Five. Donovan’s work will be the subject of an exhibition called ‘The Art of Elegance’, from September 13-18 at Gray MCA in London before moving to Bath from September 20-October 29.

Rucci works with Dean Harris for all jewelry-related designs, such as a dress with baroque South Sea pearl buttons on the back. The designer plans to do more painting on his own in order to screen print some of these designs onto fabrics for next season.

After 41 years in fashion and approaching her 65th birthday, Rucci said: “I feel very lucky to be able to do this with the same level of enthusiasm. I still love my job.

Acknowledging the ongoing social changes in the world, the war in Ukraine, the rollback of women’s and gay rights and other “apocalyptic issues”, he said, “There is no way for us to defend ourselves or to prepare ourselves psychologically. Before Elsa Peretti died, she said, ‘The only way to deal with it is through beauty and art.’

In the process of revamping her art-filled apartment into a three-room sewing salon, Rucci said bringing clients there will allow them to experience the process of sewing and its art. “At one point in my life, I had a 16,000 square foot office and living room and 67 employees. I don’t now, but I’m happier than ever to do what I want, the way I want.

Despite the many headaches plaguing designers due to supply ties, fabric price hikes and other issues, Rucci insisted that the couture customer will always want polished designs and that it can stand the heat. Before this week’s heat wave hit New York, Rucci ordered two inflatable pools from Amazon and installed them on his patio. A small one for his bulldog “Jimmy”, which is named after Rucci’s mentor, James Galanos, and a bigger one for himself. “Saturday I’m going to get in the pool and lay down there – fancy dressmaker in an inflatable kiddie pool,” he said with a laugh.

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