Marie Rucki - the one who taught me everything.
Today, it is with great emotion and boundless admiration that I present to you Madame Marie Rucki, Director of Studio Berçot who shaped me into a stylist ten years ago. I don't say "trained" but rather "shaped" - you are more or less born a stylist, it's genetic, but making it a vocation is another matter, it requires polishing, shaping, artisanal technique but also, on top of that everything, opening of all the chakras of inspiration and creativity.
Studio Berçot is this hive little known to the general public, not really a school, even less an academy, but an environment that tickles curiosity and invites creative abundance.
- no exam, no continuous assessment, no grades, no badge, teachers not teachers in their heads, but passers and mentors with a watchful eye. The students do not jealously hide their copies from each other, on the contrary, they exchange them in a jubilant manner, quite the opposite of schools which have replaced emulation with sterile competition which makes one crazy or mean as the case may be. For the fashion design world, however, Studio Berçot is an international reference place for all fashion designers, including Asians. Madame Rucki is, legally, the Director and the owner, but this is only a contingency, her real function is Pygmalion. She has shaped so many talents, the list goes on. Arriving in the light after their Berçot years, Isabel Marant, Lolita Lempicka, Bruno Sialelli, Natacha Ramsay, Vanessa Seward, Vincent Darré, Veronique Leroy... and so many others, including my friend Marie-Victoire de Bascher who I will introduce you very soon. Marie Rucki will surely give an ironic pout if she reads that I give her "Madame" but it's stronger than me, I have so much respect and admiration for this 84-year-old youth who is totally resistant to conformism, to the unique main stream thought, with its eye that curls at the slightest sign that a new trend is stirring around the corner, announcing a new style, not a fashion but a style, that is to say a trace, nuance, we will come back to it. And then our conversation took place, out of the norm and out of time, while we each smoked a cigarette in our shambles office, not a penny of legalism. Wonder Agathe who accompanied me couldn't believe her laughing eyes! Mrs. Rucki was kind enough to ask her if the smoke didn't bother her? Agathe's response "no of course... if I don't get the smoke in my face...". I was at the theater, I believe that Madame Rucki, who experienced the Bus Paladium and Palace years of all the excesses, gave a little knowing smile in the face of so much lifestyle and conviction. However, don’t change Agathe! Coincidence, but I don't believe in coincidences, one of the most beautiful subjects of the Philosophy Baccalaureate of that same week was running through my head during my enchanting conversation with Madame Rucki: “Is it possible to escape time? " Yes it's possible ! A moment of reason, or of unreason, it's possible.
Not accepting fate is a way of escaping time, I have experienced it myself with my own recipes...
But also, even for just one minute a day, if it is saturated with passion, enthusiasm, laughter, sharing, non-conformism... we escape time. And Madame Rucki has been collecting minutes like these by the millions (by billions perhaps?) for 84 years, without the slightest nostalgia! You know, this handicap of thought which makes many say: “it was so much better before…”. No ! Really not better, only different and so often worse... Madame Rucki doesn't care about these artificial markers or dividing lines - before/after, right bank/left bank, couture/ready-to-wear... - so many boxes or partitions invented by those who, ultimately, fear freedom, bridges and cosmopolitanism.
She has experienced so many crossroads and confluences, since that day in 1971 when she succeeded Suzanne Berçot, the founder of the Studio in 1954. They were both illustrators by training, by taste, and visionaries above all. Madame Berçot came from an era where advertising was called "advertising" (Bébé Cadum, Cachou Lajaunie, Y'a bon Banania, and Pschitt who had not been ousted by Coca Cola...), Le Jardin des Modes was the essential reference magazine, before evaporating in time and space in favor of Vogue, Elle or Grazia, and where the line, the cutting techniques, the craftsmanship had not been preempted by the 3D, marketing, social networks and the powerful LVMH or Kering... but it wasn't better "before". Madame Rucki's visionary talent is to have understood this evolution by jumping on the ready-to-wear train, with her curiosity and her innate sense of anticipation. So she will in turn shape the Studio in the image of the times that come and in her image, it's the same. She confesses links (or inspiration) with the prestigious Central Saint Martins (College of Art & Design) in London, both an eccentric and very structured incubator for the creators of “swinging London”. There we don't teach fashion, but we give the keys to a global concept where design, graphics, scenography (...) in short, creativity, are paths that lead to the transformation of our usual representations. Alexander McQueen, Phoebe Philo, Stella McCartney, but also Damian Hirst and Gilbert & George were introduced there.
I also believe that, secretly, Madame Rucki likes these fanciful English people - I remember that I saw a bit of Vivienne Westwood in her -.
She also provides us with a clue during our conversation. “Ridiculousness” is, according to her, the key to this essential cultural difference. Beyond the Channel, we embrace ridicule and eccentricity without complexes, here “ridiculousness kills”, they say, we prefer the self-consciousness that some call elegance. But elegance is not judged by an outfit, it is an attitude, here as elsewhere.
Strong in her convictions, Madame Rucki organized the Studio as follows: in 2 years + an optional year (to follow specific courses) we will tackle fashion design, the study of trends, volumes and proportions, colors and materials. But also drawing, nude sketches, fashion drawing, technical drawing, illustration and screen printing. With all this, an essential hint of general culture, art history, costume, visits museums, exhibitions and the viewing of numerous films. Finally, essential practical work: cutting and modeling, sewing and molding, flat cutting and patterns, making prototypes, etc.
The interdependence between technique and creativity is the common thread of these fertile years. Unbridled creativity without technical support would only be a whim with no future and technology that does not fuel creativity would only be a very dry process. The two are in symbiosis, like the chicken and the egg. And then, every year, the Berçot fashion show is the climax of the season. The students are incredibly inventive. The event does not escape the rainmakers and the big houses who come to do their “cherry picking” of young talents. Jean-Paul Gaultier or Christian Lacroix often pass there, almost incognito, with all antennas out. As the parades approached, we felt the palpable energy. I loved Studio Berçot, there is not a gesture or action in my daily life with Mister K that is not a direct trace of my years spent in this hive in the 9th of rue des Petites Écuries. And the most significant trace, the decisive know-how, that I owe to Berçot, is this uncompromising need to create our own patterns and prototypes at Mister K, in close collaboration with Jean-Michel that I have already told you present. There is no question of giving in to the ease of copying or even simply reinterpreting successful competing models. The end will never justify the means, it is a question of ethics and pride. We almost separated after this magical moment, on a slightly melancholy note. Mrs. Rucki is naturally attentive to the transmission of her legacy. The financial question arises to stay at the forefront. Ms. Rucki looks at the question lucidly but perhaps she is missing one thing, just one thing, the access codes of the new economy - crowdfunding, non-predatory business angels, the tom-tom of social networks, influencers - Agathe and I promise to move the lines with our small but confident means, because we are beginning to have the keys to the circular economy. I feel a moral obligation to keep the flame alive.
“To teach is not to fill a vase, it is to light a fire” proclaimed Montaigne.
Thank you Madam.