Ralph Rucci - Life and Career

Life and Career

Rucci was born and raised in Philadelphia, and holds a degree in philosophy from Temple University. At the age of 21, he moved to New York to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and later trained under Halston and a Balenciaga patternmaker. He had his first formal show at New York's Westbury Hotel in 1981, but launched Chado Ralph Rucci over a decade later, in 1994, and began showing at New York Fashion Week in 1999. In 2002, Rucci became the first American designer in more than 60 years to be invited to show in Paris by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (the only other designer to be so honored was Mainbocher), and he showed his haute couture collections in Paris for the next three seasons. He has twice been nominated for the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Womenswear Designer of the Year Award. Rucci is also a painter, who has exhibited in art galleries throughout the U.S. His paintings, exhibited at the Serge Sorokko Gallery in San Francisco in December, 2012, were described by Architectural Digest as "enigmatic works... bearing sweeping brushstrokes that are collaged, here and there, with scraps of silken fabrics."

From the beginning of his career, Rucci was inspired by the style of such fashion icons as Elsa Peretti (for her "biomorphic nature") and Pauline de Rothschild (for "creating harmony out of disorder"). Rucci's influences also include the painters Cy Twombly, Franz Kline, Antoni Tàpies and Francis Bacon, sculptor Louise Nevelson, Japanese symbolism, and the designer James Galanos. Rucci's "individual mind" has been praised, as well as his "distinct point of view," as The New York Times noted in a review on a 2007 Rucci exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

In 2007, fashion historian Valerie Steele wrote The Art of Weightlessness, an illustrated monograph published by the Yale University Press on the occasion of Rucci's exhibition at the FIT Museum. In 2008, the documentary Ralph Rucci: A Designer and His House, narrated by Martha Stewart, premiered on the Sundance Channel. In 2011, Rucci was inducted into the Fashion Group International Walk of Fame. In December 2011, Bauer and Dean published Autobiography of a Fashion Designer: Ralph Rucci, with photographs by Baldomero Fernandez. In 2012, Rucci received an André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award from the Savannah College of Art and Design.

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