Ralph Rucci's (b. 1957) designs are as monumental as they are intricate, meant for a cerebral clientele. His inspirations often come from the fine art world--Cy Twombly paintings or Richard Serra sculptures. Rucci launched his eponymous line, Chado Ralph Rucci, in 1994. Its name derives from the highly specialized Japanese Chado tea ceremony, famous for having 331 intricate steps, which is mimicked in the complexity of his structural compositions.
Chado Ralph Rucci
Gift of Barbara Bundy
Rucci's uncompromising aesthetic, reverence for technical virtuosity, and comprehension of complex patterning garnered a rare invitation to enter the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture; he was only the second American to join this elite group. The simple shape of this shift dress belies its exacting construction: one-fourth-inch-wide strips of alligator skin are sewn at contrary angles onto delicate silk netting; the strips match up faultlessly at the side seams, creating perfect linear movement.
Luxurious materials and a well-trained atelier yield impressive garments with unavoidably high prices. Rucci explains: "I'm not for everybody.... I make the most expensive clothes in the United States, not because I want to, but because I want the best."1
1Linda Gillian Griffin, "High Fashion Fine Art," Houston Chronicle, April 8, 2001. Quoted in Anne Bissonnette, Chado Ralph Rucci (Kent State University Museum, 2006), 24-25.