NEW YORK -- Working since 1981, Ralph Rucci has won almost every honor that can be bestowed on an American designer, most recently the Andre Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah College of Art and Design. He is known for meticulous detail and construction, often influenced by Far East traditions and fine art. Rucci himself is a painter whose work will be exhibited in December at the Serge Sorokko Gallery in San Francisco. He showed his spring-summer 2013 collection Sunday night at Lincoln Center.
The look: Brash and beautiful with bold strokes of color. But also more spare and sporty than ever before with an emphasis on casual pieces (T-shirts, shirt dresses) and materials such as neoprene, zipper accents and tube-like embroidery. Inventive use of bright shades of neon pink, tangerine orange, acid green and dandelion yellow, whether it was hand-painting a floral blouse, mixing different chiffon layers like paint on an artist’s palette on a pair of wrap pants, or splicing color inside the back vent or across the shoulder of a jacket. Shirt dresses with hot-hued contrast piping were covetable, and a coral, white and black color block Scuba-inspired dress sexy as hell. Evening wear was pure, unabashed fun. How can you not smile at a metallic pink shift dress covered in fuchsia ostrich feathers?
The scene: True connoisseurs, including fashion academics Valerie Steele and Michael Fink, model Carmen Dell’Orefice and socialite Denise Hale.
The verdict: Where other designers, including Zac Posen, who showed the same night, pay homage to couture, Rucci pushes it forward. He is truly a master. And this collection had zip.