Fashion exhibits are a frustrating display of clothes porn. Not only can you not try on the designs, but you’re prohibited from touching anything, usually by a plane of glass and the stern stare of security guards. An open bar only increases this design lust. Despite these irritations, FIT’s opening of Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness last night attracted throngs of admirers, including the designer’s friend, Martha Stewart. The domestic diva strolled around in fine form, appearing to travel with her own lighting kit.
Located on the bottom level of The Museum at FIT, the show’s first room contains the designer’s personal sketches and ancient art collections, combined with a few designs and accessories such as “obituary gloves.” Interesting yes, but we wish our initial contact with the world of Rucci could have been the next room. The designer’s famed Infanta dresses, set center stage and in the air, are the exhibit’s real exclamation points. The proportions for these sculptural pieces were calculated using the classic Greek formula of the “Golden Mean.” For the “Ripple Effect” Infanta, the advanced “Fibonacci Sequence” determined the appropriate spacing for the graduated insets. Try replicating that on a McCall pattern.
Inspired by artistic greats, such as Francis Bacon and Cy Twombly, and Buddist aesthetics, Rucci’s luxurious threads and laborious processes’ evidence why he remains the first American to show at Paris couture since Mainbocher in the ’30s. Although not nearly as well known as the other Ralph, this retrospective will surely resolve this relative obscurity.
Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness
The Museum at FIT
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street
January 12-April 14
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 12, 2007