Chado Ralph Rucci Spring 2010

Where & When: Saturday, September 12th at 7 p.m., the Tent, Bryant Park
Runway Recap: Have you ever seen clothes so beautiful, they make you cry? Maybe exhaustion had something to do with it, but during the grand finale of Ralph Rucci's runway show, I was literally moved to tears. To backtrack a bit, Rucci is the only working American designer who, per la chambre syndicale de la haute couture, can call himself a true couturier. In other words, Rucci creates clothes that are, in essence, wearable art. His obsession is the spine, arguably the most elegant line in a woman's body, and his designs hug it, outline it, and radiate outward from it like puffs of smoke. Rucci is above trends, although sheer insets played a big role in the collection, and with couture techniques like columnar tucks and knotted chiffon trim, the details only emphasized the purity of his form. Designs like these tend to end up in museums--F.I.T.'s Valerie Steele was in the front row, after all--but they're so gorgeous, they deserve to be worn too.
Standout Look: In true dramatic buildup, Rucci's show started with demure day looks and slowly transitioned into showstopping evening gowns. And while I am always enthralled with the latter, I think the true test of a designer is to see what he or she can do with the limitations of the former. On paper, a beige silk raincoat sounds pedestrian and even lackluster, but in person, this airy confection skimmed the body like a soft, beautiful cloud.
Bonus Points: While I was entertained by my seatmate Edgar, the most enthusiastic Colombian ever to attend a fashion show, as well as by Rucci's client Martha Stewart, who was seated directly across the runway from me, I direct the bulk of my praise to the staging of the show itself: The models paused twice at points two-thirds down the runway, so the audience could more closely observe the intricate details of each look. Then, for the finale, they stood on a raised platform, allowing us a prolonged last look at the artistry of Rucci's work--whose beauty, as I mentioned earlier, led me to tears.
Where to Buy: Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, and select Neiman Marcus stores.

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