BACK IN BLACK: “When did you see your first little black dress?” André Leon Talley asked Ralph Rucci in Paris last Thursday. “Was it on your mother? Was it an aunt? Was it a school teacher?”

“It was a nun,” at Catholic school, Rucci replied.

The setting was a panel discussion Talley hosted at the Mona Bismarck American Center for Art and Culture in Paris, which is hosting the “Little Black Dress” exhibition he curated through Sept. 22. The show debuted last fall at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).

Talley — who’s also editor at large for Numéro Russia and contributing editor at American Vogue — invited Russian couturier Ulyana Sergeenko to speak, as well. To her, he said: “Many of your dresses are worn as if [your clients] were heroines from Chekov or Tolstoy — long dresses with beautiful brooches, romantic clothes by day, literally evening clothes. Do you prescribe that kind of romanticism for day?

“I love long dresses – and why not,” she replied, adding it’s sometimes “more convenient to wear long dresses.”

Another question posed to Rucci: “Have you ever done a whole collection in black?” Yes, was the answer, in fall 1994.

“Dresses, separates, coats, suits, furs — yeah, and it worked. A little black dress is an asset; it takes care of everything that needs to be taken care of,” said Rucci. “I think it’s the best fashion muscle to exercise.”

Talley explained the exhibit came about organically, when he was in SCAD’s closet. “There were so many beautiful dresses, but the most beautiful dresses I thought were the black dresses,” he said.

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