Raf Simons’ work for other major fashion brands is widely recognized and appreciated amongst the industry, but we often forget RUFFO RESEARCH, the first brand that trusted him and his partner back then, Veronique Branquinho, to design two collections for the Italian brand in 1998 and 1999.
Founded in 1966 by Ruffo Corsi, Italian company Ruffo supplied high-quality leathers to Jil Sander, Versace and other top-tier designers. In 1998, the brand introduced Ruffo Research, an incubator for young, cutting-edge design talent to experiment with boundary-pushing leather techniques. The label hired a different designer every year — past participants include Helmut Lang, Riccardo Tisci, Haider Ackermann, A.F. Vandevoorst, Antonio Berardi and Sophia Kokosalaki. “Ruffo Research is an important project that has given us visibility and helped grow the company through the collaboration with young designers, but now we want to give continuity to the line”, the house owner Giacomo Corsi, told Women’s Wear Daily.
Joy Yaffe was the organizer of the Ruffo Research Project and was in charge of selecting these designers each season. She was interviewed by WWD just when the news started spreading, “We’ve picked two rising stars. Veronique shone at the Paris collections last season, and Raf is the top-notch men’s wear designer of the moment”. The New York Times journal also wrote about it: “Linked romantically, they separately represent progressive design voices in the post-minimalist mode, with an emphasis on precise, inventive cut”.
Raf Simons designed the menswear outfits for Ruffo Research’s Spring-Summer 1999 and Autumn-Winter 1999-2000; and Veronique Branquinho did the same in womenswear. These collections marked a sensitive and inventive manipulation of leather, as we can see in these three dresses and the red puffer. Sadly there are few pictures of these runways, especially Raf’s. In fact we had to screenshot a page from the Redux book to get some extra looks. It’s interesting to point out that leather garments were most popular amongst Raf Simons’ own runways during these years, specifically in Spring-Summer 1999 “Kinetic Youth” and Autumn-Winter 1999-2000 “Disorder-Incubation-Isolation”. It was definitely not a coincidence.
Did you guys knew about Ruffo Research? If so, any extra information is highly appreciated !
Written by Iñaki Alaba