IT TAKES A VILLAGE: Ralph Rucci is lending his design talents to create pieces for a spring benefit for the LGBTQ communities.
The designer is creating gowns for legends of the ballroom community and fashion runways who will join in a show for “L’Hommage…A Night of Celebration, Unity and Love” on May 11 at Judson Memorial Church in New York.
The cocktail party will benefit FIERCE, which stands for Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment, a New York-based organization that mentors LGBTQ individuals. With members in the 10- to 21-year-old age range, the group helps them line up internships and take part in leadership development programs. In New York City, the group organizes grassroots campaigns to combat police harassment and violence and increased access to safe public space for LGBTQ youth.
Aware of the interest in the Eighties-inspired FX show “Pose,” which features the largest LGBTQ recurring cast ever assembled, and eager to help the LGBTQ community, event coordinator Anthony Stropoli said an activist friend directed him and Rucci to FIERCE. The event is a tribute of sorts to the ball culture world.
“Raquell Lord Balenciaga” will be hitting the catwalk in New York for the first time in more than 10 years. “Gisele Alicea Xtravaganza” and “Jose Gutierez Xtravaganza,” whom many know as Madonna’s lead dancer from her “Blonde Ambition” tour, will be among the models who are mothers or fathers of their respective houses. Since the Twenties, mothers and fathers of houses have been taking in individuals provided they follow the house rules. Coco Mitchell, Rucci’s longtime fit and runway model, as well as Tatiana Sorokko, will hit the catwalk. André Leon Talley and Sandra Bernhard are sharing the emcee responsibilities for the 500-plus-person crowd, which is expected to include Rucci fans like Deeda Blair and Susan Gutfreund.
Stropoli, who works part-time at Barneys New York, described vogueing and people who go to the balls as “a creative fantasy of the couture.” Vying for trophies, they may compete in such categories as designer realness, couture or runway. “They will walk runway in a way that will blow your mind because they are breathing it,” Stropoli said, adding in all likelihood they never would have experienced couture without Rucci’s participation. “The collaboration with the fittings is brilliant. I can’t even put it into words.”
The event will also feature a vogueing session followed by FIERCE-supported children presenting trophies of love to the Legends. MAC’s John Demsey arranged for all the Icon runway models to wear MAC makeup. Pride Media, GLAAD and production designer and prop stylist Cooper Vasquez have offered their support. Photographer Danielle Levitt is planning to do a photo shoot and short film about the event.