NEW YORK — Less than a week after Ralph Rucci unexpectedly exited his company, the designer spoke Tuesday at the Fashion Group International’s annual Tastemakers Luncheon at Le Cirque.
Before a far-ranging conversation with André Leon Talley, Rucci said he has decided on his next career move, but he is not yet able to disclose it. The designer said he expects to do so in the next few weeks. “I’m not really having a break. If your mind works in one way for so many years, there’s no such thing –– in terms of shifting the perceptions, yes. This is a shift in perception, you know there’s a difference,” he said.
This story first appeared in the November 19, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
While running errands in the Garment District last week, Rucci said he passed by his Garment District Alliance Walk of Fame star on Seventh Avenue at 39th Street, which happens to be near those of Halston, his first boss, and James Galanos, “his best friend and mentor.” “And it wasn’t planned,” Rucci added.
After his talk with Talley, Ozy consultant Constance White asked Rucci why he left his label. “Because I needed to take a step into the future to put perspective in the past, so that I can redo the future,” he said to much applause.
Earlier in the program, Rucci told the crowd, “I do what I have to do. If they like it, they like it. If they don’t, it’s their prerogative. I have devout faith that I do not do this alone and my work and my offering is tied up with a very strong spiritual well and I am clearly the conduit. That is why I’m convinced so many clients respond to the clothes. I am also convinced that might be a way that fashion can evolve in the future.”
Rucci was clear about his own likes and dislikes. Recalling how in 1975, Elsa Peretti could create excitement by walking into a room in a cashmere bodysuit and carrying a brown paper bag, Rucci said, “I live for moments like that and trying to create moments like that by what I design. It’s not particularly mass market, but it trickles down in certain ways. And I am convinced it will trickle up in a way of presenting one’s self, first and foremost in fashion with a tremendous amount of kindness and humility because our profession and individuals are losing sight of that: without humility, there really is no style. None.”
Rucci did give high marks to such favorite muses as Comtesse Jacqueline de Ribes, Deeda Blair and Patti Smith, who Pope Francis has invited to sing at the Vatican. “So I have been whispering in her ear,” Rucci said. “What to wear!” Talley interjected.
Talley also regaled the crowd by telling them how, after taking Whoopi Goldberg to her first fashion show, one of Rucci’s, “Six weeks later, she had ordered about 11 pieces and she paid for them…OK. She even responded to a black horizontal band mink coat, sable with horsehair.”
As for what he thinks are the biggest hurdles with personal relationships in the fashion industry, Rucci said, “Approach them all with kindness. That’s the one thing. Practice it. Love it. That’s all. That’s what gets you success and nothing else.”
Bergdorf Goodman’s Linda Fargo sized up Rucci’s success in a different way. “In Ralph Rucci, we have an actual true original. Very often that is an idea that gets thrown around a lot, but to actually be an original, which means to invent something that didn’t exist before, a language, a vernacular, his spine vertebrae detailing, the way he has separated seams, clothes that look like they’ve got body but they are lighter than air –– all of these things are not easy.”
Afterward, Rucci’s fit model Coco Mitchell, who, until four years, ago walked in all of his runway shows, also spoke of his meticulous approach, which often called for 15-hour fittings. “Doing things with Ralph, I don’t know, was like making a movie. We bonded,” she said.