This weekend I had the privilege of visiting Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, where the university had a handful of exciting events on hand--from a fantastic student fashion show (more on that later) to an eye-opening exhibit of Ralph Rucci's work at the Andre Leon Talley gallery in the SCAD museum.
Rucci was honored this year with the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award, and to celebrate the designer sat down with ALT (clad in a red cloak, natch) for a candid talk at the museum's auditorium with Robin Givhan as moderator. The conversation ran the gamut, covering topics as broad as the importance of celebrity endorsements and how the internet has changed fashion, to specific tidbits, like Beyonce's Met Ball dress (and why she was late) and why Rucci says he won't dress Kim Kardashian.
Read on for the best bits:
On how the Internet has affected fashion:
Andre Leon Talley: The importance of the Internet has perhaps dampened the relationship between designers and individuals and editors because everything moves so fast. Fashion used to be small, intimate; now it's global and democratic. I think it could be lacking what I call 'special moments.'...I think what is lacking in fashion today is a powerful sense of emotion. Emotion has been struck down by immediacy
Andre Leon Talley: Beyonce was not slated to come. She decided to come last minute when the dress [which he later said took 350 hours to sew] arrived at her house. She tried it on and then she said, 'okay, I have to come.' She did arrive at 8:55 and the ball had already started but it didn't matter because she is Beyonce.
On the word 'couture':
Ralph Rucci: The word couture is over used. Andre Leon Talley: It is abused!
On why a celebrity stylist's work can be disrespectful to a designer:
Ralph Rucci: I bow to Tilda Swinton. We approached her [to wear our garments on the red carpet.] But there's a buffer in between the star and the designer, and the buffer is called the stylist. I do not not lend clothes [but before we send clothes] we make sure: Is a stylist on this? Is this being selected for Tilda to wear specifically? If [the garment] is going to be thrown in with 100 other garments [by the stylist], it's disrespectful to what I do and to the women who buy those clothes.
On how fashion really works:
Ralph Rucci: You're not just selling clothes, you're buying [retail] space. The most prestigious department stores say they'd rather take an inferior garment early than a superior garment late.
On Kim Kardashian not attending the Met Ball and why dressing her would bastardize Rucci's brand:
Andre Leon Talley: What's shocking to me is how important the red carpet is. At one point I thought it was ruining [fashion] but I don't think that anymore. I dont think any celebrity can take away from fashion. Not even Kim Kardashian could take away from fashion...Though, of course, Kim Kardashian didn't come to the Metropolitan Met Ball but [her boyfriend] Kanye West did.
Ralph Rucci: And see that's the thing: Many people who I think are the celebrities, other people don't think are the celebrities [implying that he doesn't think Kim Kardashian is a celebrity.]
Robin Givhan: So would you ever dress Kim Kardashian?
Ralph Rucci: No, I think that's bastardizing yourself [as a designer].