It has now been five years since Ralph & Russo became the first British fashion house to receive accreditation to the couture schedule in over a century – and, remarkably, it has still been less than a decade since the company first launched. Now, with stores across the globe, 300 employees to its name, masses of A-list fans including Angelina Jolie and the Duchess of Sussex, and a growing list of clients spanning every age group, the couple behind the wildly successful business talked to us about what it takes to run a truly modern couture house.
“I think being relatable even if you are very high-end is what makes you relevant,” Tamara Ralph, the label’s co-founder and creative director, tells me backstage after the house presented its couture autumn/winter 2019 collection in Paris.
For the show, Ralph & Russo took over the British Embassy, erecting a 90-metre long catwalk in the grounds, and sent colourful and fantastical ballgowns out into the Paris sunshine. The collection, which was inspired by the 1930s Art Deco movement, made for a few breathtaking moments, particularly when the exquisite bridal finale gown appeared, a dress that took 12,400 hours to make and included 1,500 organza ﬂower appliqués that were stitched on by hand.
The closing wedding dress at a Ralph & Russo couture show is always a sight to behold and this one was no different. Ralph explains that the chance to truly show off this detailed level of craftsmanship is unique and important for them – and is why she thinks the concept of the fashion show might adapt, but it will never disappear.
“The fashion show will always be the best opportunity to showcase what you are about that season – you could never experience what you see out there when you’re watching the show in any other way, but I do think that it will evolve. I am sure that it will be very different in a few years time and we might see a shift into the digital age and that’s exciting, but I think the fashion show as a concept will always exist.”
“The shows are a very important way for us to demonstrate what the brand is about and our level of work and craftsmanship,” Michael Russo, co-founder and CEO adds. “It helps us to demonstrate that we are really proud of the essence of the house because sometimes it is difficult to translate that in other means.”