Ralph Rucci was born in 1957 in Philadelphia. He was a student of Philosophy and Literature at Temple University. He then moved to New York in the 1970's and studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.
He has been designing in New York since 1982 and now has his showroom on Seventh Avenue. The media has never really bothered to attend any of his shows in the last 20 years, and he is a mystery to them. But to those who do go, he has long been the master of quiet seduction.
Since 1994, he has called his Ready-to-Wear collections CHADO, named after a Japanese tea ceremony which creates an overall sense of grace and elegance.
In 2001 he was invited to join the Haute Couture collections in Paris, being the first American to have this honour since Mainbocher more than 50 years ago. Some Americans who work for other houses do show couture collections, but not in their own name.
In July 2002 he unveiled his first ever genuinely couture collection. The beauty of his collection was in the details. Each piece had a smooth quality, a subtlety and a softness which was implicit in the fabrics such as double-faced hand-stitched cashmere, velvet, silk moiré and sable.
It is rare to find a fashion designer who is also a sculptor and a decorator, but Rucci has these skills, using ivory satin or black velvet to make jackets that stand away from the body, which remind of classic Balenciaga. He loves the stately presence of sweeping stoles and cloaks and vast quantities of fabric in his evening gowns. Sculptural, architectural and clean. Hammered-satin suits, short, laser-cut jackets, narrow pants with sixties-style tunics, slouchy fur tops.
The well-heeled social elite, like Joan Kaner, fashion director of Neiman Marcus; Martha Stewart, pre-lockup, attended the 2004 CFDA awards on Rucci’s arm.