September 08, 2013 New York
It was all the more remarkable when you consider that his materials were python, gazar, organza—the fine stuff of the couture that is his natural habitat, but treated here with a casual confidence. An ivory slipdress in matte python? A bubble of hand-painted organza, layered over a black leather skirt? They showed a relaxed side of Rucci that his longtime boosters have longtime hankered for. Technique is technique—it can enhance an evening dress but it can also elevate a T-shirt. That's what Rucci did to great effect here. One dressy look featured a torrent of electric fringes (he called them "eyelashes," and who are we to disagree?); another, equally effective, was not much more than an elongated tank in sheer black silk, slashed to the thigh over a little black sheath.
There is always a point in his shows when Rucci takes his technical mastery for a walk. In this collection, that meant a crepe jacket whose midriff was made up of a "barbed wire" in black leather, or a wrap coat in laser-cut broadtail, or a dress in the basket-weave technique that looked like something he'd borrowed from a samurai's suit. There was a time when such effects would overwhelm Rucci's shows and leave you awed but somewhat breathless. With time, he's learned to oxygenate those moments. It's lightness that prevails now: jackets slashed and reconstituted with tulle-filled seams, tunics of gloriously shimmering paillettes, trailing laces and fringes to loan movement. And most memorable of all, the aprons that Rucci wrapped around waists, in metal mesh or black velvet or bugle beads over pants. "The new suit," he called the look. And that's exactly how it looked—new.