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Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness

View the online exhibition on Google Arts & Culture.

A retrospective of the work of acclaimed fashion designer Ralph Rucci was on view January 12 through April 14, 2007. Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness marks the 25th anniversary of his career in fashion and features approximately 100 of his garments, including some suspended from the ceiling, as if they were light enough to float. The title comes from an article by Suzy Menkes, in which Rucci said, "The whole idea is to take the structure, completely tailored with all the propriety of a suit, but make it weightless."

The first American to show officially during Paris couture since Mainbocher in the 1930s, Rucci is an avid admirer of past great couturiers, particularly Cristóbal Balenciaga, Alix Grès , and Halston. He never copies them, but rather uses their inspiration to craft his own unique designs. For example, his grand ballgowns, known as Infantas, were inspired by Balenciaga. While he borrowed the past master's penchant for imposing volume, Rucci crafts his gowns with many more complex patterns and a more intense and varied color palette.

Rucci also designs ready-to-wear garments that feature extraordinary dressmaking techniques and luxury textiles. Patricia Mears, deputy director of the Museum at FIT, said, "Ralph has a profound knowledge of fashion history and he is a true connoisseur of fine art from around the world. Our goal is to present the many facets of his creativity."

An avid art collector and accomplished painter, Rucci uses great art as the starting point for many of his finest designs. Pieces from his private collection-ancient Khymer sculpture and bamboo baskets, Japanese art, Indian sculpture, and contemporary art by Francis Bacon and Cy Twombly - as well as paintings by Rucci himself will be displayed near the garments that they inspired, such as a black silk organza caftan and pants ensemble reminiscent of Japanese screens.

A graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), Rucci was the recipient of the inaugural Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion, presented in October 2006.

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness was organized by Patricia Mears, together with Dr. Valerie Steele, director and chief curator, and Fred Dennis, associate curator. Accompanying the exhibition was a full color catalogue, published by Yale University Press, with more than 150 images and essays by Valerie Steele, Patricia Mears, and Clare Sauro.

Ralph Rucci: The Art of Weightlessness was also featured in Google's Arts & Culture "We Wear Culture" project, a collaboration with The Museum at FIT and over 180 renowned cultural institutions from New York, London, Paris, Tokyo, São Paulo, and around the world. View the exhibit below and through the Google Arts & Culture app on iOS and Android devices.

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