Monday, September 09, 2013

New York Fashion Week Notes by Marilyn Kirschner


A Class Act

Spring 2014 Ralph Rucci white bi level blouse & tuxedo
(All photos Vogue.com - click images for larger views)
 
 If anyone can impart a much needed dose of class to the Tents at Lincoln Center and make you forget where you are, even for just a little while, it's Ralph Rucci. His show last evening did just that. When you walked into the venue, it seemed magically transformed even before the first model came down the runway, thanks to the thoughtful edition of chic transparent Plexiglas chairs that were added to some of the front row. (They also mimicked the Ralph Rucci for Max Kibardin sandals - with their straps of clear plastic - which were used throughout). By the way, I love the simplicity of the concise two word label now that Chado has been left off. And the idea of simplicity sums up the collection. While we all know there is nothing at all simple about the thought that goes into the designs, or in the painstaking detail and workmanship that has come to define Ralph's work, the overall effect was one of simplicity, and the best pieces pieces were actually those that appeared the most simple.


Ralph Rucci black bugle beaded apron siren

 The run of show began with Ralph's quote, taken from the David Boatman film, "Ralph Rucci: A Designer and His House": "It is very important to show what the human hand can do".  And boy-oh-boy, what those hands can do! The spring collection, which had a feeling of lightness and unencumbered weightlessness, was signature Ralph. As was the color palette: predominantly black, white, ivory, nude, bronze, taupe, with a hit of coral and spice. By the way, black is Ralph's favorite color (he once said he could do an entire collection in black), and nobody does as much justice to the color black, or to the little black dress  as Ralph. It was almost entirely solid but for a smattering of hand painted chiffons and organzas, and several iridescent pailletes. Other fabrics: Python, leather, metal mesh, shantung, jersey, silk knit, cashmere, feathers, crepe. 


Ralph Rucci nude silk wool uniform

 I loved the way he opened the show with the simplicity of the black tuxedo pant and the white bi level blouse, followed by signatures like the matte white python jacket, the white matte python slip, a group of tunics, and the perfect white cotton raincoat. But each season, in addition to his signatures, there are always lovely surprises. Such as his take on a "uniform" in black and nude. When you say the word uniform, you don't necessarily conjure up Ralph Rucci, but the components of his are a button down shirt, a lean pant, and an overskirt in silk and wool.


Ralph Rucci a diamond ring on every finger

 Then there is the use of an "apron" in metal mesh, velvet, and bugle beads - they were used brilliantly on a coat, a jersey dress, and on a the final 'siren', and they were about as far from what is hanging in your kitchen as could be. His use of leather barbed wire (ouch...it sounds painful but looks beautiful), and the way he was able to translate an admiration for Louise Nevelson into clothing (a Louise Nevelson a taupe embroidered Laser Cut Broadtail Coat and a Louise Nevelson black leather jacket) was amazing. His ability to make a turtleneck look seductive and alluring; and the effective and unusual way he put diamond rings on each of the models' fingers (actually, it was their digits). It caught the light beautifully as they walked down the runway, and added a bit of an edge.


Finding my religion

Spring 2014 Threeasfour Eden Dress Jewish Christian Islamic tiling
patterns laser cut in white cotton poplin

The designers of the innovative and avant-garde group threeASFOUR: Gabriel Asfour (Lebanese), Adi Gil (Israeli), and Angela Donhauser (Tajikistan), are free spirited artists known for their highly conceptual, museum worthy, couture like designs. Their diverse backgrounds and different religions, have long informed their poetic and socially conscious aesthetic. And their creative collaboration, which began in 1998, is proof of what can be achieved when people think out of the box, stay true to themselves, and work together to break down social barriers. If threeASFOUR had their way, the world would not only be more beautiful, but following their lead, (they strive to promote cross cultural unity among religions), it would be far more peaceful.

Threeasfour Bahai 3D dress in ivory laser sintered nylon

Their latest collection, for spring 2014, is called Mer Ka Ba, a school of early Jewish Mysticism that is defined as a "vehicle that allows a person to ascend or descend into the higher or lower worlds". But actually the Mer-Ka-Ba  can be anything, "because it is the primal pattern that created all things and all universes, both visible and invisible". The trio was especially inspired by the tiling patterns found across religious structures around the world, and the collection focuses on modern technologies such as 3D printing and laser cutting. Done in a palette of black and white, it is distinctive on many levels. It translates ancient symbolism to a new living form, and is a multimedia installation which fuses avant garde couture, architecture, and video projections. Beginning September 15, it will open to the public at The Jewish Museum at 1109 5th avenue, http://www.thejewishmuseum.org.

Threeasfour Obelisk Dress in Islamic tiling pattern laser
cut in black silk satin organza

But lucky members of the press and fashion professionals were treated to a formal runway presentation on Sunday morning, featuring 21 pieces, many of them exquisite, (especially the ones most simplified, where you could really see the detail and workmanship). The show was held on the second floor of the museum (a beautiful and historic building) and we needed to pass through a gallery filled with Marc Chagalls (one of my personal favorites). All I could think of, was that the case for showing off site, away from the main Tents, just got a little stronger. What a wonderful way to start a Sunday morning! By the way, on each seat was a bottle of Ahava's Deadsea Water Mineral Body Lotion. I love Ahava's products and this one not only smells great, but the package says that Dead Sea minerals are known to improve the skin's well being and youthfulness. (I think I'll slather it on!)



- Marilyn Kirschner
 






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