DDI honors mannequin creator Ralph Pucci
By Rachel Brown, Contributor
Ralph Pucci, president of New York-based Ralph Pucci International, is more than an innovator in the mannequin industry. His ability to combine design, art and fashion into mannequin collections that reflect the times make him DDI's 2009 Markopoulos Award winner. Each year, DDI presents one outstanding industry professional with the prestigious Markopoulos Award, an honor named after the late visual merchandising legend Andrew Markopoulos. For more than half a century, the Pucci family has given retail interiors the 'wow' that only a well-designed mannequin is capable of doing. 'Mannequins bring a tremendous amount to the retail environment' Pucci says. 'They create the excitement. I think mannequins are one of the most important, quick, visual things that people get right away.'
Pucci's parents opened a mannequin repair business out of their home in 1954, and when he joined the company in 1976, the family began making their own mannequins. The first big idea happened in 1978, when the company developed a collection of mannequins called Workout, Pucci says. Making a statement as one of the first action mannequins, and with activeware starting to hit the fashion scene, the Workout collection sported an abstract form sprayed in gloss metallic colors a very different approach then most of the realistic mannequins at that time, Pucci points out.
As Pucci created buzz with his timely, creative mannequins over the years, he became affiliated with many renowned artists, designers, photographers, models and retailers even Andrew Markopoulos himself. [Andy] was always the first one in my showroom wanting to know what's new, what's next. He didn't want something tried and true ; he always wanted to shake it up and create excitement, ' Pucci fondly recalls.
The interior designer who opened doors and ideas for Pucci is the legendary Andree Putman, with whom he produced three collections. The collaboration with Putman inspired Pucci to connect with other creative talents, including illustrator Ruben Toledo, author Maira Kalman and pop artist Kenny Scharf, among others.
Pucci's business today has expanded into furniture, and coming in May, a new book, titled 'Show,' will feature collections from his New York showroom. 'Step by step the business just kept growing,' Pucci says. 'Did I envision myself doing something else? I don't know. It just happened. It wasn't planned it's about being at the right place at the right time.'