“People were captivated,” said Timothy Long, the curator of the costume collection at the Chicago History Museum, which hosted a Tuesday luncheon that featured a 45-minute chat with Ralph Rucci, who was in town for a trunk show Wednesday at Neiman Marcus on Michigan Avenue.
During a late afternoon visit to the School of the Art Institute, Rucci minced few words, addressing many of the same themes, telling students and faculty intimately about his love of and displeasure with elements of the fashion industry.
Known as one of two American fashion designers invited to show collections at the haute couture in Paris, Rucci quickly clarified that description. “So many people say couture,” he said, “and I don’t use that word anymore.”
After showing in both Paris and New York, Rucci decided to make one collection twice a year, as well as resort pieces fusing elements of couture and ready-to-wear, noting either label is polarizing. Couture buyers don’t want to buy ready-to-wear and ready-to-wear buyers are scared off by couture.
“The words haute couture, they banish you to an island,” he said.
When asked about his creative process, Rucci said he used to sketch endlessly, until he labeled it procrastination. Instead, he told students to pull back to allow the idea to crystallize.
“I don’t sit down and put [sketches] on a wall,” he said. “One [piece] has to give birth to another. I used to need to do a dozen coats before I got a dress.”
Rucci tries to stay calm and let the inspiration hit him, noting that he believes a “higher power” is involved.
“I see passages in my mind,” he said. “It’s like being on the best drug in the world.”
He said at those times he feels like a sieve, albeit an isolated one. While he’s working on a collection, he avoids other distractions, becoming in his own words “a difficult person,” speaking only to his staff.
“[At times], I’ve missed out on a separate life,” he said, urging students to find a balance between life and work.
Rucci applauded the school’s interdisciplinary approach to fashion, in which many students study sculpture and other artistic pursuits.
Rucci, who came from a conservative Catholic family in Philadelphia, said he was a closet painter. “There was no such thing as [being] an artist,” said Rucci, who graduated from Temple University, where he studied philosophy and literature.
And while his paintings feed his fashion, they also provide an outlet and a “trapdoor,” if he exits the industry.
But pity those who do leave, Rucci said, because they immediately become yesterday’s news — or worse.
“You are disregarded like trash at 90 miles an hour,” he chided, saying, “We don’t respect our elders in fashion.”
Many designers today take themselves too seriously, Rucci said. “It’s annoying. I think they should just work. Some designers are spending more time getting photographed than on their work.”
In turn, some of the designers who are devoted to their craft don’t receive the same press, Rucci said, including himself in that group.
American fashion, he said, has become, for the most part, boring.
“It’s an homogenized message scrunched down to 12 names in New York,” he said, later cautioning students against rushing to start their own lines. “Please, please get experience,” Rucci said. “You don’t get second chances in this industry.”
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@imanshumpert is diving deeper into his creative endeavors and relaunching his clothing line, Post 90s, and is helping to raise money for the hurricane victims in St. Maarten with a jersey he’s designed with his brother. The Cleveland Cavaliers player talked to WWD about kneeling during the national anthem, working with fashion brands and how he wants to be more than an @nba player. Read the interview on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
Not only does #TheProfit return to CNBC tonight, but @marcuslemonis has launched @shopmarcus, a new shopping and lifestyle retail experience in Aspen and Chicago, with more locations to come. The retail stores offer in-store stylists and a variety of contemporary womenswear selections.
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For pre-fall 2018, @etro created richly-colored wonderland, using tapestries, textiles and wallpapers from the Eastern world at large. The line featured floral and graphic prints and jacquard motifs, like this two-piece look featured here. #wwdfashion (📷: Giovanna Pavesi)
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)