Ruffian Designers Balance Civilization and Constellation



“Today,  we travel through space and time,” designer Brian Wolk said before Ruffian’s Fall 2010 show Friday morning at Exit Art in Chelsea  Space, as defined by Ruffian, isn’t an abstract excuse to play around with a nighttime palette and celestial prints—although each featured prominently in the show. Rather, artists’ various interpretations of “the heavens, the stars, astrology, and the cosmos through the ages” provided the genesis for the cleverly titled “Big Bang” collection. For Ruffian, a label renowned for their peplum-waisted  jackets and high-necked blouses, “the ages” start somewhere around 1860, at the height of Victoriana, and end with what co-designer Claude Morais refers to as “modernity,” prompting Wolk to chime in: “Which begs the question: what is modernity, anyway?”

If the clothing supplied any answers, it was in the new tailoring and fabrics, which married sequined jersey, “for ease” Wolk notes, with Ruffian’s usual stiff, structured, and “very British” bouclé.  “We wanted to introduce the idea of sportswear, which is a very modern, American thing,” Morais confirms. “Mohair, sweatshirts, knitwear—but tailored knitwear, which is pretty unusual thing to do, actually. But, of course, it’s very Ruffian.” Textile prints, too, evolved on a timeline, referencing everything  from ancient astrology charts to Van Gogh’s Starry Night to digital footage from the Hubble Spacecraft. Says Wolk, “The prints make it very personal. It’s interesting to chronicle the relationship between civilizations and the constellations over time.”

But beneath all the cosmological pretexts, the boys say that these are clothes to go out in. “We’ve been going out a lot this year—much more than we ever have before‚so the idea of being comfortable in your clothes suddenly really matters. We put inlays in everything,” Wolk laughs. It turns out the Ruffian stargazer is also the life of the party. Fittingly, Marc Jacobs’  husband Lorenzo Martone, hosted their post-show party that very night at The Box on the Lower East Side.