Iris Apfel Thinks Ralph Rucci is the Modern-Day Charles James

By  February 10, 2014

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Iris Apfel has only been to one show this fashion week, and for good reason.

“I went to Ralph Rucci’s last night. It was beautiful,” she said during an early press presentation for the Anna Wintour Costume Institute’s inaugural exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. “I love it. I love his aesthetic, and his fabrics, and his attention to detail.”

For the iconic fashion week fixture, Rucci’s work is the closest thing we have to the aced construction, elegant design, and creative genius of Charles James, who was celebrated this morning at The Met. Though many may not know him by name, they are certainly familiar with either James’ original masterpieces or subsequent reiterations of his best work—the wraparound Taxi dress originally conceived in 1929, or his Four-Leaf Clover dress which was replicated by the Institute and modeled this morning by Elettra Wiedemann. As Harold Koda, curator of the Institute said, “Every woman of great sensibility [like] Gloria Vanderbilt… had one or several of his gowns… Elsa Schiaparelli and Chanel wore James.”

It’s a quality Apfel says contemporary clothiers consistently lack.

“He was a genius, and it’s about time people paid attention to construction, the way things are made,” Apfel said, across the room from Koda, Wintour, and Aerin Lauder. “Things today are just kind of slopped together… Young people don’t have a sense of history, particularly fashion history, so they really should come. They can learn the way things should be made and learn what it is to be precise, and well-groomed, and put-together.”

Save, of course for Rucci.

“I think his construction is brilliant.”