Ralph & Russo co-founders on haute couture, dressing Meghan Markle, and innovation inspired by Covid

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Models walk the runway during the Ralph & Russo show as part of Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 on February 28, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)
Models walk the runway during the Ralph & Russo show as part of Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2020/2021 on February 28, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by Kristy Sparow/Getty Images)

Ralph & Russo - the British fashion label co-founded by Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo - continues to take the fashion world by storm.

They are expanding globally and dressing some of the world’s most prominent people.

Euronews' Jane Witherspoon gets the low-down on the designer brand:

Can you talk me back to the beginning and talk to me about how you formed the brand and what you wanted the brand to stand for? 

Tamara Ralph, creative director and co-founder of the brand, explains how the label "grew out of a passion for luxury and craftsmanship design."

"I come from four generations of fashion and Haute Couture. When Michael and I met, we had a vision to have a global luxury brand.” (sic) 

In 2013, you were invited to join Chambre Syndicale in Paris, and you were the first British brand to showcase.

"To be the first British brand in 100 years was a big milestone for us," expresses co-founder, Michael Russo. 

"It was quite a milestone, and the first Australian's ever. It was always very important for the brand and what it stands for. To be recognised by the Chambre Syndicale was an incredibly important achievement and we had the support of Didier Grumbach, who was the President at the time," Tamara adds.

How would you personally define Couture? 

"Couture is an art. All of our clients that purchase couture purchase it for generations, it's something that's an investment,” Tamara expresses.

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How have the techniques changed in terms of dressmaking over the years? And how have you adopted them? 

“So, we have a big atelier that specialises in the couture side, and then we have craftsman that specialise in other categories such as Ready-to-Wear. There's a variety of languages and ages in the couture atelier, and it's nice to have a mix of old techniques yet more modern applications.

"We like to push and constantly innovate, and we run apprenticeships, where we can train and innovate as well,” Tamara continues.

You dressed Meghan Markle. What is it like when you get a challenge like that? Was it exciting or daunting? 

Tamara Ralph shares that "it was very exciting."

"It was such an iconic moment because of Meghan's choice of piece for the day. It was different from what people were probably expecting which is nice because I think it showed her personality and pushed the boundaries," she says.

Do your clients have much input if you’re designing something specific or special for them? 

"We've had some diverse celebrity moments from stage outfits for Beyoncé to costume outfits for Angelina Jolie for the Maleficent film. It's been so diverse, so the challenge is always there," Michael reveals. 

“With all our private clients, it’s always a personal experience no matter if they’re a celebrity or private client. We love to guide them, be part of the process and be involved," Tamara adds. 


How different was it showcasing virtually? 

"It was an evolution. It's difficult to create a connection that you'd have with the physical show, so I think that was the hardest part to keep alive. I loved the innovation side of things, and I thought it was interesting to push the boundaries with digital and play with new ideas.

"But I think that the traditional fashion show is still very important. It’s all about a balance of both going forward, and one is just as important as the other,” Tamara says.

Why did you guys choose to launch in Dubai? 

“I think Dubai has got such as multicultural following, and I think for us as well, it’s a product that’s well-suited for the market. It’s got a customer base that’s very keen and well known to Ralph & Russo. For us in this region, it was our first flagship,” Michael explains. 

Would you say you have a different clientele? 

“I think in Dubai, there are a lot of tourists and those tourists are typically Ralph & Russo clients already, so the products that we're are offering here are still the ones that we use worldwide and relevant to our worldwide customers as well as the local markets. So, I would say there's a mix of both," says Michael Russo.

Do you think that the local fashion scene is growing? How would you say it compares to the powerhouse like New York, Milan, London, and Paris? 

"It's integral to the Gulf region. It's the hub of the region. It's incredibly international, and I think it's a huge destination for fashion." 

READ MORE| Fashion will have to redesign itself in order to survive beyond the Covid-19 pandemic

How is motherhood going to change your work-life balance? 

Tamara shares that “it teaches you to find that balance which I think I probably didn't have before. I have a great team, an amazing support structure internally. We'll find a way. It might be a chance to venture into fully-fledged children's line."

I believe you're expanding now, venturing into accessories. Is there a beauty line? 

"What's been amazing actually through Covid and before Covid, is that we were able to reset our thinking to focus on what we'd like to achieve in the next couple of years.

"So, cosmetics and beauty are something we're very interested in. Home and furnishings, and everything connected to that sector is something that we've been slowly putting in the works for a little bit of time," Tamara concludes.

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