RALPH RUCCI – AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF PERFECTION
Ralph Rucci is many things. First and foremost he is an artist who designs clothes. Though he is known as a clothing designer he also trained as an artist and has had gallery shows of his art as well as his clothes.
I think many would say he is the designer’s designer. You know when people say he’s the writer’s writer or the director’s director? It’s always the highest compliment because it means those who do what you do admire you and you haven’t sold out.
His name is not all over towels and sunglasses and tote bags. Yet he has the distinction of being the first American designer in more than sixty years to be invited to show in Paris by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
Translation for those of you who while very bright did not count on me writing so much about fashion; it means the French who are more stuck up about clothes than any group on the planet think Ralph is good enough to be included in their inner circle. He makes clothes the way they like, the way they think they should be made. By hand. Bead by bead. Painstakingly planned and worked on and out. Each one a piece of art unto itself. Clothes not made for mass consumption, but for those very few who can afford to have a dress that is museum worthy.
He calls his line Chado, after the tea ceremony; that long involved process the Japanese feel is the essence and only way to really make a cup of tea. The process and ceremony being as important as the outcome.
So with Ralph Rucci the process, the act and art of what he is doing is as important as the result.
That is hard to come by these days when every designer wants a hit handbag to appear in US on the arm of twelve celebrities, half of whom are wearing UGGS.
Like the man himself this is not your average designer coffee table book.
It has been breathtakingly produced by Bauer and Dean. I say produced and not published because it’s not like a book, it’s more of production. It’s almost like a mini film on paper, filled with images from all parts of Ralph’s life, from his home, his books, his inspirations, his work and the people who work with him. It’s unusual as he is an intensely private person and when you put the volume down you feel like you know something about the man and not just a rehashing of his greatest hits. You feel privileged to be allowed into his inner sanctum. And I’m not just saying this, it might be one of the most beautiful books I have seen in years.
The book is like a couture gown, bit by bit, piece by piece, moment to moment, image to image, it has been put together to give the reader the perfect object. In the same way a couture dress is an object and timeless and not just something to toss on, this book is an object to be savored and revisited for years to come.
I have known of Ralph Rucci for years. Last night I had the pleasure of meeting him at the signing of his book Autobiography Of A Fashion Designer – Ralph Rucci.
I had some stories he wanted to hear, so he pulled up a chair and we had a lovely chat while he signed.
He talks to people the way he designs, very intensely.
I overheard him telling a young woman who wanted to interview him what he would and would not discuss. He is someone who does not have time nor interest in the banal or mundane. He said to her “It’s your job to be good, to do your best.” He knows he gets up every day and does just that, in his work, and in his life. He wants others to do the same. I like that in a person.
Keep raising the bar for yourself and don’t pay attention to the crowd. The journey is as important as the result. But if the journey is made with joy and taken with care and attention to detail the result will be exceptional and at the world will take notice.
Life is an exercise in perfection from a cup of tea to a perfect dress to the things you live with around you, to the book produced about your life.