THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 27, 2007

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fashion,fashion/textile exhibition,Museum — phyllisc @ 4:19 pm

A true Diva highlight of our whirlwind trip to New York this week was a stop to see the Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Rucci is currently the only American designer who has been invited by the Chambre Syndicale to show his designs at the haute couture collections in Paris.  This is no small feat: compliance with the haute couture business model is arduous and costly, and Rucci is the first American since Mainbocher to be so honored.

Rucci’s clothes are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also totally wearable.  There are several dresses that Ann, Gigi and I wanted to wear ourselves – and we all have very different body types.  One gown we all loved is  this jersey gown with a hand knotted bodice.  These are just tubes of silk jersey that are machine sewn together for the skirt, hand sewn together through the hips, and hand knotted for the bodice.  Utter simplicity, yet is this not a thing of beauty?Alabaster hand-knotted silk jersey gownAlabaster hand-knotted silk jersey gown. Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture spring/summer 2003. Collection of Ralph Rucci

A big favorite of mine is this cashmere coat with tone-on-tone hand embroidery in floral motifs. It’s refined yet opulent, and also timeless.

Taupe double-faced cashmere brushed-twill embroidered coat, taupe cashmere, brushed-flannel pants and taupe bodice with alligator strips on netting. Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter 2004. Collection of Ralph Rucci

And unless you think Rucci mostly does luxurious pieces for  ladies who lunch, this alligator leather day ensemble looks pretty youthful to me:

Chocolate brown alligator tunic worn with an embroidered silk scarf Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter 2004, Collection of Susan Casden. Black silk marquisette skirt trimmed with chocolate brown alligator strips. Ensemble worn with chocolate brown alligator hat, boots by Manolo Blahnik for Ralph Rucci and gloves by Daniel Storto for Ralph RucciChocolate brown alligator tunic worn with an embroidered silk scarf Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter 2004, Collection of Susan Casden. Black silk marquisette skirt trimmed with chocolate brown alligator strips. Ensemble worn with chocolate brown alligator hat, boots by Manolo Blahnik for Ralph Rucci and gloves by Daniel Storto for Ralph Rucci

The F.I.T Rucci show is much better as a fashion exhibit than the current Fashion Show: Paris Collections 2006 exhibit at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.  F.I.T. is, after all, a fashion school so naturally you’d expect their curators to have the kind of display expertise required to properly exhibit fashion.  Several of the evening gowns were suspended from the 20 foot ceiling, so it was easy to peer underneath and see their inner structure.  The lighting was wonderful, and the mannequins, unlike the MFA show, where not headless, which in Boston sort of reduced haute couture to a RTW window display.

There are also *lots* of garments – dozens really – with evening wear, day wear, and accessories deeply represented.  The audience is also more informed than the MFA show, obviously.  When we were there the gallery was crowded with industry professionals and fashion students either sketching or listening to their professor lecture.

In addition to the clothes, there is a small exhibit outside the gallery of Rucci’s original sketches and pieces from his art collection, and it’s great to see his inspiration in the same context as his couture.

And  – the F.I.T. Museum has no entrance fee.  Yes – it’s free!

You must go see it if you’ll be be in NYC this spring.  It’s there till April 14th.



  1. Thanks Phyllis for sharing your impression about this exhibition at FIT. It sounds like you had a lot of fun during your NY trip with Gigi and Ann. I like Ralph Rucci designs a lot and would like to share

    where you can see a lot of the beautiful garments he made. A year ago I saved a lot of those garments pictures on my computer a year ago and the ones you put up in this post were included too. I can understand the excitement if you are able to see what’s inside the dress or gown.

    Comment by Els — January 27, 2007 @ 8:02 pm

  2. Oh. My. God. That jersey dress is so amazing. It’s beautiful, of course, but the thought process that went into conceptualizing such a thing. Not to mention the technical skill. Sigh….

    Comment by nanflan — January 27, 2007 @ 8:37 pm

  3. I am absolutely fawning over that jersey dress. First impression does not leave me feeling it would be utterly simple to create though! 🙂 Thanks, Phyllis, for sharing it.

    Comment by Kelly — January 28, 2007 @ 10:16 am

  4. Thank you Phyllis for sharing this. For someone on the West Coast and who won’t be able to get to the exhibit, this is truly a treat. Glad you had fun in NY. Did you add to your fabric collection at all?

    Comment by Little Miss Sew N Sew — January 28, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  5. Cool report, Phyllis! The rest of us Divas definitely missed a good time. Thanks, I hope to visit this exhibit when I’m in Manhattan in March.

    Comment by Mary Beth — January 28, 2007 @ 10:18 am

  6. GASP…. the Rucci stuff is amazing! Thanks so much for sharing the photos and all the other interesting stuff about the haute couture business model, etc.

    Comment by Robin — January 28, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  7. Thank you for your review of Ralph Rucci’s retrospective and for the photos of his wonderful creations. I saw a few examples of his Fall line in the Niemann Marcus windows in San Francisco in September and they were so beautiful they nearly made me cry. I think he is the best of the best and especially appreciate that he doesn’t resort to shock and outrageousness as a substitute for a great design “eye”. I would love to see the exhibit, but alas, I have shot my entire disposabable budget (and then some) for the whole year in the past week.

    Comment by Kathi Sorensen — January 31, 2007 @ 2:07 am

  8. Zorb, I LOVE that jersey dress. The other items do nothing for me, but that dress!

    Comment by Jules/Vancouver BC — February 4, 2007 @ 4:58 pm

  9. Thank you for the heads up on this show. I just returned from visiting my daughter in NYC, and saw the Rucci show and am still feeling “high” from it. Many of the garments were works of art. Just amazing!

    Comment by Hellenne Vermillion — February 12, 2007 @ 9:13 pm

  10. I caught this show as well as the “Color” exhibit at FIT last week! Was in town from DC to attend Malan Breton’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week runway show on Friday. We headed to FIT after the show to see the exhibits and then headed to 37th St for some fabric shopping – love love love Mood Fabrics! A great way to spend a day in NYC.

    Comment by Laura L — February 14, 2007 @ 4:54 am

  11. i am a big fan of gaultier but seeing your jersey dress i cant stop saying that .sky is the limit. m not comparing but i wanna say -you have achieved the level of creativity where such comparison has no r complete in your own style.awesome,amazing,great n……….list goes on.

    Comment by prashant(india) — October 22, 2007 @ 8:43 am

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