September 14, 2006
With its Japanese backdrop screens and the Noh face silk-screened on a dress, there was something about Ralph Rucci's latest collection that suggested pillow booksthe intense, intimate diaries that geishas once kept. There was certainly a quality of private obsession in the extraordinaryeven for himattention to detail: the organza inserts on a wool jacket, for instance, or the embroidery on the black velvet underskirt of a purple satin gown from the couture collection, which comprised the show's second half. Rucci presented some extravagant wonders, such as a jacket covered with porcupine quills, and a green satin coat bedecked with feathers that quivered like leaves in a breeze-blown forest. Such subtle movement was a riposte to those who claim the designer's clothes are paralyzed by technique. The pillow-book analogy was suggested again in a pattern composed of Rucci's own semi-indecipherable handwriting, which was printed on a tank and embroidered on a caftan. If all this ensured that this was one of Rucci's quieter outings, it was nevertheless a privilege to watch him work through his self-imposed design challenges.