Just over a year since he walked away from his namesake company, Ralph Rucci came back with an exquisite — perhaps his best — 17-piece collection for his new RR331 label. The evening looks were exhibited on mannequins in a large West Side gallery packed with retailers, press and fans, who seemed happy to be able to get really close to the clothes. Two standouts: the black double-faced cashmere jackets with silk inserts to add a touch of shine where shadows would naturally fall, and the Noh costume-inspired, wide black velvet pants and slender tunic, intertwined with silk organza and lined in silk taffeta — all given body by horsehair. An infanta velvet gown with tulle details was another beauty.
The collection defied simple description, filled with clothes that were cerebral in their construction and conceit, creative and subtle in their effect. This was for all intents and purposes couture, although Rucci, paradoxically, described it as “templates for how the pieces can evolve into made-to-order for clients or ready-to-wear for retailers.” The designer’s obsession with construction techniques could easily have driven his furrier — with whom he intricately worked panels of the most luxurious light Barguzin sable — mad. But both Rucci and Nick Pologeorgis loved every minute of it.