Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Chado Ralph Rucci Spring 2011

The days before Fashion Week are always a roller coaster--the fear I won't get invited to anything exciting, the anxiety of waiting, the exhilaration when invites do arrive, and the crush of rejection when events are "already at capacity."I hit one of these highs when my invitation to Chado Ralph Rucci arrived; like last season, the spring show was to be held in Rucci's Soho atelier. However, less than a week later, the show was cancelled due to the illness of the company's president, and I was crushed. My luck changed, however, when Rucci's press representative contacted me and invited me to the showroom for an appointment. I happily accepted, figuring I would at least get to take a look at the clothes amidst other journalists, buyers, clients, and the like. Instead, I got a personal, hour-long tour of the collection from Ralph's lovely sister, Rosina. At which point I stepped outside my body and let my soul drift, angel-like, above Rucci's heavenly clothes.

As I've noted in the past, Chado customers tend to be of the older and moneyed variety (Rucci wisely makes clothes cut appropriately for the women who can actually afford them), but for spring he's courting a, shall we say, newer audience with more casual, cost-conscious pieces in cotton. There was the most chic dolman-sleeve jumpsuit I've ever seen, a classic safari suit, and even cotton jeans (yes, Chado makes jeans). I noted one dress was "entry-level Chado," which Rosina said she'd tell Ralph, at which point I nearly, in the Rachel Zoe sense of the word, died. This cotton dress was one of my favorites in the collection--it appears casual at first, but upon closer look, you see it's inset with topstitched and braided suede. It is, as they say, quietly luxurious. There was also a series of cotton canvas coats, with seams finished so beautifully, they looked as good from the inside as they did on the outside (a sentiment sure to please one of my old Parsons professors, who was a stickler for French seams).


Part of what makes me admire Rucci so much is that he does incredibly innovative things with fabric. This lovely taupe duchesse satin coat below is, believe it or not, waterproof. That's right--this is the fanciest raincoat you will ever see. The detail shot in the middle is a jacket made from a tapestry fabric that Rucci found at the D&D building; he placed it perfectly so that the temple was in the center of the back. And the look far below was another one of my favorites in the collection--the jacket consisted of double-faced wool crepe pieces suspended in silk tulle, which had the effect of looking like it was in mid-explosion.


The spring collection was inspired chiefly by sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro, whose deconstructed spherical shapes turned up as broken spheres and jagged bits in Rucci's work. You can see the effect in the close-up shot below of the "worm suit"--the suit appears to be split into pieces, with sharp little bars holding it all together. And this showstopper of an orange dress spiraled around the body, beginning with the hand-knotted bodice and unraveling into the asymmetrical taffeta skirt.


Of course, there were familiar Chado themes on display, particularly the skeleton motif in this dress below. And have you ever seen a better-looking tailored suit? Both pieces feature Rucci's signature horsehair insets, which, this season, were embroidered with a jagged pattern reminiscent of EKGs. Both elements are a bit dark in nature, which fascinates me--I love finding beauty in slightly macabre things.


I was so impressed with the detail on everything that Rosina took me on a tour of the workroom, where I saw Rucci's patternmakers, finishers, and embroiderers, as well as sewers and cutters, all hard at work on the fall collection, due to the stores and clients shortly. In a world where nearly everything is manufactured in developing countries nowadays, it was rather amazing--and encouraging--to see that everything is made in-house at Chado, from the breathtaking ballgowns to, yes, those jeans. It was enough to inspire me to start saving up for my own "entry-level Chado."

Chado Ralph Rucci is sold at Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and select Neiman Marcus stores. All images courtesy of Chado Ralph Rucci.

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