Designers Dish: Ralph & Russo's Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo
After Paris Haute Couture Week, we caught up with the design duo who dresses Beyonce and Angelina Jolie.
PARIS — Following a dramatic show during Haute Couture week here — which featured a wedding gown that needed no less than six attendants to lift the train — Ralph & Russo is bound to be seen on the red carpet this fall.
The engaged couple behind the label, creative director Tamara Ralph and CEO Michael Russo, are no strangers to celebrity dressing, scooping up clients such as Beyonce and Angelina Jolie in the short seven years since they launched their label. Earlier this year, Ralph & Russo became the first British house in a century to be invited into the exclusive French Chambre Syndicale.
They straddle both sides of the channel with ateliers in Paris and London and plan on opening in New York and Hong Kong within a few months. Los Angeles will soon follow so they can better attend to their growing clientele of red carpet regulars.
"We have a lot of clients there, so it would be lovely to have a team to look after them full time," Ralph told Pret-a-Reporter during a visit to their Parisian atelier.
The collection, inspired by the architecture and interiors photography of Massimo Listri, was a shimmering swirl of tulle holding crystal and pearl embellishments with romantic ruffles and dramatic capes.
Amid the rise of fast fashion that can distill and discard trends from one week to the next, Ralph and Russo started with haute couture seven years ago. "We wanted to start with haute couture because it is what we love," said Ralph. "Haute couture has made a huge comeback and will continue to make a huge comeback. People really are after special, unique pieces." The simple philosophy and perfect execution in their native Australia led to word of mouth traveling across the globe.
Beyonce was the first celebrity to wear the brand, and the duo went on to design the costumes for her Mrs. Carter Tour.
"There are a lot of different elements you have to consider when creating the stage outfits for her. It has to stretch in every direction. With quick changes, you have to make sure they are easy to get in and out of, and that they're hard-wearing with all of the dancing that she does and the amount of shows that they do in a tour," said Ralph.
They're a sartorial staple of Jolie as one of the few designers to get the Oscar winner to lighten up her look, frequently dressing her in white. They've also dressed Duchess Kate. Despite the red carpet triumphs, they've flown under the radar in much of the media.
"We haven't really wanted to shout too much. We grew very discreetly and very exclusively, but we're now reaching a much wider audience," Russo told us about the brand's second show on the French couture calendar. "It was very important for us that if we were going to do a show, it was on the official schedule. And since the reception, [it] has been really phenomenal and great for the brand. It's really put us on the map."
This season the brand debuted their first accessories, showing shoes on the runway. And with a sizeable investment from British billionaire John Caudwell announced in June, the brand is poised for growth.
Since the runway show, they have been fielding several red carpet requests, including the upcoming Emmys.
"We've had a flood of emails for red carpet requests already, because the pieces are exclusive and everyone likes to get in there first," he said. After Paris and some time in London, the duo will travel with the collection for client fittings.
Ralph pointed out a metallic silver French Chantilly lace column that has been particularly popular. "This," he said knowingly, "you will see on the red carpet soon."