Ralph Pucci will always have his mannequins — and more. His 30,000-square-foot, two-level showroom in Manhattan continues to evolve with photography, paintings and home furnishings.
“We’ve created an art center here,' Pucci said during a preview of what’s new at Ralph Pucci International, 44 West 18th Street
For his opening today, Pucci will put the spotlight on his Gallery Nine level, which has been expanded by 4,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet. The floor features an exhibit of Diego Uchitel’s moody fashion photography in sepia and gold tones, shot for Pucci; a large abstract mural by Malcolm Hill that’s big, yet sustains the understated spirit of Gallery Nine, and David Weeks’ latest lighting collection, a site-specific installation constructed in spun aluminum and steel, oxidized metals, nickel plating and powder-coated shades. The space also displays furniture by Vladimir Kagan, Chris Lehrecke and Jim Zivic, and photography by Deborah Turbeville.
On Pucci’s penthouse level, also 15,000 square feet, there is an exhibit of photographs by Marcus Leatherdale, an assistant to Robert Mapplethorpe, documenting the pop culture and club scene of the Eighties with photos of Diane Brill, Iman and Andy Warhol, among others. “It was a free and adventurous time,'said Pucci. Also on the penthouse, a minimalist installation of oversize glass vessels created by Los Angeles glass designer Lianne Gold and master glass blower Andrew Thompson from Minnesota. The 60-piece collection is presented on cinder blocks with metal plates and set in front of an 18-by-13-foot mural of a vase painted by Peter Astrom. Furniture by Jens Risom, Hervé van der Straeten and the Ralph Pucci Furniture One collection are displayed in the penthouse as well.
It’s an eclectic mix, but Pucci sees the correlations between mannequins, furniture and art. “Obviously, there are sculptural aspects to all three.' There’s also a shared aesthetic that Pucci described as “very clean, minimal, spared down and timeless, and nothing mass-produced.…It’s also about creativity and taking chances,' he added.
Pucci’s next mannequin collection, to be unveiled in December, is called Girl 2. Geared toward younger customers and trendy fashion, the mannequins are resin-tinted in pop colors, like grape and bubble gum for a fun look. Pucci is collaborating with the Pratt Institute on a project in which students will create either paper outfits for the mannequins or paper sculptures. He will be part of a panel judging the students’ work, including Linda Fargo, Nicole Fischelis, Anna Sui, Vicente Wolf, Richard Gluckman and Ken Smart. They’ll select what they consider the best three and the winners will be revealed on Dec. 7 and receive mini sculptural awards adapted from Pucci mannequins.
“This gives the students a new forum and working with them keeps me current. I benefit and they benefit. It’s a two-way road,' Pucci said.