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A Passion for Perfection: James Galanos, Gustave Tassell, Ralph Rucci

September 15, 2007–March 9, 2008

The opening exhibition in the Joan Spain Gallery, A Passion for Perfection highlights works from the Museum's costume collection by three award-winning fashion designers from Philadelphia: James Galanos, Gustave Tassell, and Ralph Rucci.

Connected by a web of personal influence and shared roots, each of these couturiers has had an illustrious career, bringing to ready-to-wear apparel the craftsmanship and attention to detail that marks Paris haute couture.

Main Building

About the Designers

Celebrated as a "Dean of American Fashion," James Galanos worked briefly for Robert Piguet in Paris before opening his own firm in Los Angeles in 1951. There he produced luxurious and elegant ready-to-wear clothing until his retirement in 1998. Among his most famous clients were Nancy Reagan and Rosalind Russell. Galanos has received many fashion commendations, including the coveted Coty and Neiman Marcus awards. In 1985, he was honored with the Council of Fashion Designers of America Lifetime Achievement Award.

It was with the encouragement of Galanos that Gustave Tassell moved to Los Angeles in 1956 and opened his own firm. Tassell had studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, and worked as a sketch artist for Genevieve Fath in Paris. His refined designs appealed to clients such as Jacqueline Kennedy and Princess Grace of Monaco. After the death of designer Norman Norell in 1972, Tassell moved to New York to take over Norell's clothing line under the name House of Norell. When the Norell line closed permanently in 1976, Tassell returned to California to design for private clients.

Ralph Rucci is a great admirer of Galanos, who, in turn, is one of Rucci's most loyal supporters. Rucci studied literature and philosophy at Temple University prior to attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. Known for impeccable craftsmanship and beautifully pared-down silhouettes, Rucci celebrates twenty-five years as a couturier this year. In 1994 he founded Chado Ralph Rucci, named after the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. In 2002 he became the first American since Mainbocher to be invited to show with the Paris haute couture.


Dilys Blum • Curator of Costume and Textiles

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