Renowned designer opens exhibition

Samantha Rainwater

Fashion museum hosts Chado Ralph Rucci exhibit

The Chado Ralph Rucci exhibit is being held in the museum’s largest gallery, the Broadbent Gallery. Rucci, the first American designer to show his garments haute couture in Paris, is known for his unique approach to the cut and construction of his work

Credit: Ben Breier

While walking through downtown New York, Director of the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising Elizabeth Rhodes saw something that made her stop dead in her tracks.

In the window of Saks Fifth Avenue, workers were dressing mannequins with designs Rhodes had never seen before. She returned after a meeting to discover who the designer was: Ralph Rucci.

Rucci came to the Kent State University museum last night to kick off the opening of his exhibition, Chado Ralph Rucci, and to speak to students about his influences and designs. At the end of the talk, which was a part of the Scroth Visiting Artist Series, Rucci was inducted into the Kent State University Fashion Hall of Fame.

Rucci spoke to students about the importance of cut in designing clothing, as well as the need for originality in the fashion business.

“Lately, individuality is being seen as not that important,” Rucci said. “There needs to be a stop to the sameness and mediocrity in fashion and fashion journalism.”

Rucci said he merges many different forms of art when designing his clothing. For example, Rucci showed a slide of a wall covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics, and then showed a slide of a garment he created based on those hieroglyphics.

Rucci also focused much of his talk on his influences, such as Roberto Capucci, James Galanos, Charles James, Madame Gray and Cristobal Balenciaga.

“I’ve modeled the way in which I’ve approached fashion on this man,” Rucci said of Balenciaga. He said Balenciaga’s designs were some of the first he saw while studying philosophy and literature in college.

Rucci’s exhibition is being shown in the museum’s largest gallery, the Broadbent Gallery, and is the first major public display of Rucci’s work, according to museum curator Anne Bissonnette. The exhibition contains more than 70 garments from Rucci’s collection, spanning from his earliest designs in 1981 to his most recent creations.

Rucci, the first American designer to show haute couture (high fashion) in Paris, is known for his innovative approaches to the cut and construction of his work as well as for his exquisite craftsmanship.

“With intellectual rigor and a boundless love of his craft, he has risen quietly in the ranks of designers who matter,” Bissonette said.

Rucci said he encourages students to experiment with how they design and construct garments. He said experimentation is how beautiful garments are made.

Rucci also said although he does not design clothing with a specific woman in mind, designers must be aware of a client’s needs when creating garments.

“It’s very important to remember where your clients are wearing these clothes and in what kinds of rooms they are wearing these clothes,” Rucci said.

Rucci said he is inspired by his own artwork as well as sculpture, calligraphy and Egyptian and Japanese designs.

“I work with a variety of themes and they float in and out,” Rucci said. Rucci said he enjoys choosing which themes he will mix in his designs.

Rucci said he enjoys using volume in his creations, although lately he has begun designing more fitted garments because it is harder to find women who will wear large amounts of volume.

“When you work with enormous garments that have large amounts of volume, it’s as if you are painting,” Rucci said.

Before the opening of his exhibition, Rucci spent nearly three hours working with fashion students yesterday morning.

“It was so exciting to see that interaction in the studio,” Rhodes said. “His work is something we all can admire.”

Rhodes said Rucci focused on the students rather than himself and his own fame.

Senior fashion merchandising major Renee Radcliff said Rucci’s talk was one of the more interesting of those she’s heard at Kent State.

“I thought it was interesting how he discussed all the different designers and how they influenced him,” Radcliff said. “His designs were more elaborate and there were a lot more people here than at any other opening I’ve been to.”

Heather Milligan, senior fashion merchandising major, agreed.

“I loved the intricate details in his clothing,” Milligan said. “He’s given a lot of advice and insight into other industries and shown us how he was inspired from other fields. Most designers take all the credit for what they create, but he really showed us that his inspiration came from so many other places.”

Contact fashion reporter Samantha Rainwater at [email protected].