LETTING IT RIP: Ears were ringing amid the fashion press Friday morning during a panel discussion moderated by Decades' Cameron Silver at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, at which honorary degree recipient Ralph Rucci, sitting alongside fellow degree honoree James Galanos, lamented the demise of modern fashion due in part to "unwearable" editorial pieces. "I think we're in a state of mediocrity," Rucci told the students. "Magazines are totally unrelatable to what you look like. The future depends on your pressing for individuality and not fitting into a form that's been preordained."
Co-panelist Michael Fink, vice president and women's fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue, then asked the crowd, "Where are the ideas that are relevant to modern women? Where are the clothes that are well thought out? As a retailer, we have to sell the clothes. If there are things that are meant for a museum, wonderful, but don't put them on the runway."
Rucci, who started his business 26 years ago, added, "To show a garment that's difficult to wear, that just has a concept to it, is not fashion."
When asked by students which designers he's excited about, Fink mentioned Alexander Wang, Doo-Ri Chung and Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte.
Galanos, who is 83 and retired in 1998 after a career designing form-fitting dresses for women including Rosalind Russell and Nancy Reagan, agreed with the panelists, noting: "You can do works of art and they can still be commercial. If it's good, it's going to relate to people. Young people must learn the difference between something that is stylish and elegant and something that is ridiculous."