Ralph Rucci approaches his ready-to-wear line with all the gravitas of an architect commissioned to design a national monument. Rich fabrics and exotic skins subordinate themselves to his authority. Every seam, every edge, every hem follows its assignment. Details are dazzlingly precise. It's the kind of brainy approach to fashion that benefits from close scrutiny by a connoisseursay, for example, the wealthy women who've become such Chado fans over the yearsnot the impatient audience at a New York runway show.
Rucci's spring collection opened with relative zip; seven models strode out at once, each in a slightly different, but equally beautiful, colorful silk raincoat with matching pagoda hat. Eminently practical, and certainly a viable option to the ubiquitous trench. The designer then segued into daywear, showing narrow skirts, tailored trousers, neat dresses, and beautiful coats. He used wool crepe, silk, leather, and outrageously luxe materials, like sheared mink or alligator sliced into thin strips, stitched to tulle and then adroitly wrapped around the body. Rucci's designs pay a debt to Japannot its pop culture, God forbid, but its formal dress, in the form of kimono sleeves, geometric volumes, and collars that sit back on the spine (a great technique for elongating the neck). His eveningwear is equally grand; the final look was a technical tour de force of white duchesse satin marked out in an expanding grid. Impressive as always; but all that intensity could use a little levity to balance it out.