Couture Details Inside Ralph Rucci’s Workroom
by Judith Neukam
An Online Extra to Threads #139, pp. 50-55
What an experience—to be invited by Claire Shaeffer to join her visit to the Ralph Rucci workrooms. We took a privileged step into the magic world of Rucci’s remarkable techniques and came away with an improved vision of couture.
Ralph Rucci is a New York designer who has been invited to show his couture collection in Paris by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. He is the first American designer to be so honored since the 1930s. This distinction qualifies him the rare privilege of using the term haute couture on his couture collection.
The photos below detail some of the unique techniques employed in Rucci’s workroom.
1. In couture-level garments, muslins are not made of muslin. Here, the test garment is made in cashmere, fitted, and then thread traced lines mark where each piece will separate into the multipanel construction shown in the following photo.
2. This beautifully engineered unlined jacket is made from double-sided cashmere. Each panel is joined to the next with Rucci’s signature “spaghetti” (round fabric tubes) and “worms” (bullion-stitched links). Understated knots bridge the major intersections on this garment. See how to make worms here.
3. Rucci’s cashmere jackets all have an architectural quality with simple unlined elegance. Here, double-cloth seams carve shape into the fabric and accent the human form. Learn how to sew these seams.
4. Pintucks etch a design on a silhouette similar to the previous jacket. Each of Rucci’s jacket styles is a unique artistic rendering.
6. Inspired by Chanel’s carpet, Rucci carves panels in cashmere, edges them, and then inserts them into the cloth to create a surface reminiscent of an Asian temple wall. First, each insert is cut from the double-layer fabric. Then, all edges are turned inside the fabric and hand sewn.
5. Painted by the designer’s hand, this cashmere coat combines favorite elements and the ultimate personalized embellishment.
7. Next, the pattern is mapped out on muslin. Tubing is sewn over the panel edge following the map.
8. Chalk marks where the tubing tails will end.
9. The finished panels are expertly inserted into the fabric and held by worms—Rucci’s name for meticulously worked bullion stitches.
10. Cashmere isn’t the only fiber Rucci masterminds. Here’s an example of his brilliant work in tulle. He has combined net, lace, feathers and dots unexpectedly. The feathers point up in a direction that makes the top look like it’s celebrating its own existence with fountains and fireworks.
11. In another garment, a tulle jacket is covered with…
12. …”linguini”—flat tubes sewn both flat and on edge for a fantastic otherworldly-looking jacket.
Painted by the designer's hand, this cashmere coat combines favorite elements and the ultimate personalized embellishment.
This Rucci jacket is covered in linguini"—flat tubes sewn both flat and on edge for a fantastic otherworldly-looking jacket.
Cashmere isn't the only fiber Rucci masterminds. Here's an example of his brilliant work in tulle.