Designer Ralph Rucci on the runway following his Spring 2012 collection debut.
When acclaimed designer Ralph Rucci canceled his runway show at New York Fashion Week, insiders speculated that the designer might be suffering financially. After all, several labels have had financial trouble of late -- ADAM by Adam Lippes and Vena Cava, to name too -- and have also canceled shows in favor of studio appointments or intimate presentations.
According to a new report in the Post, Rucci's situation sounds quite dire: According to the paper's sources, Rucci has six million dollars in debt, as well as a personal tax bill of nearly a million dollars.
While most designers on the New York scene often grapple with liquidity issues considering the expensive materials in their collections, and the season-to-season natural of the business where one season's darling could be the next season's flop. Rucci's issues seem to be a bit more systemic: The designer has not experimented with more lucrative endeavors like handbags, accessories, and perfumes (unlike his younger competitors like Proenza Schouler and Jason Wu, who rather quickly jumped into accessories), and according to the report, he refuses to loan his gowns to celebrities for events, making his visibility suffer in the process.
Whether the reports of Rucci's imminent financial collapse are true or not, Rucci is an excellent example of the talented old guard of New York fashion being seemingly behind the wave of fresh young talent and a renewed interest in American sportswear. Make no mistake, Rucci is one of the most talented designers in the city -- his Spring 2012 show earned him a standing ovation, which is exceedingly rare -- but even Cathy Horyn of The New York Times seemed to be nudging him away from his signature formal dresses in a recent review:
Though Ralph Rucci is known for his evening wear, his day dresses looked especially fresh. He had a gorgeous cap-sleeve black leather dress with lacing. To him, a black wool dress with a white collar was too plain. Actually, he should give it a second look.
Here's hoping that these financial troubles become a thing of Rucci's past, and we can all look forward to more standing ovations in the collections to come. Considering the designer's devoted fan base, a turn-around seems likely.