Ralph & Russo: the color of money
Ralph & Russo – two Australians who have made London their home - are building a fashion brand in the classical way, with old school manners from the ground up.
After spending a decade building a substantial haute couture business, staging their shows during the official Paris fashion week calendar, Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo debuted their first ever women’s ready-to-wear collection Friday night. The setting was Old Billingsgate Grand Hall, a looming brick market located on the banks of the Thames, renovated in 1982 by Richard Rogers. A glorious location with the giant Shard skyscraper to the south, Tower Bridge illuminated to the east, and the City of London to the north – and one that captured the energy and sheer wealth of London. Brexit does not seem to bother them at all.
The locale was suitably apt – a dramatic merchant’s quay below a giant center of commerce – since the wives and partners of property owners, hedge fund managers, Gulf nobility and old-fashioned billionaires from the City make up Ralph & Russo’s couture clientele.
The debut will certainly be one of those collections that appeal more to retailers than fashionistas – but, in this instance, the collection is all the better for that. Mega department store buyers from London, New York and Texas packed the front-row, as did the crew from L’Eclaireur – and there are few more savvy fashion merchants than Armand Hadida of that cool Paris chain.
The action opened with plenty of snap – Arizona Muse in an asymmetric white paneled dress held together with Swarovski crystals. They wowed with some great parkas and trenches in silk gazar and metallic leather finished with chain embroideries; and sent out marvelous crisp jumpsuits. Add in some sensational suits in silver laminate, the skirts cut with saucy slits, and a stunning burnished gold cocktail finished with black feathers. Their favorite colors – understandably given their locale – were gold and silver. The eveningwear was a tad too familiar; and needs to differentiate itself more from their couture, but overall this was a highly accomplished show. With its all-white setting and careful staging of the models on the set at the finale, it recalled the latter shows of Valentino Garavani. But that’s not a bad comparison is it?
London is full of freaky avant garde designers who want to be The Next Big Thing, but Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo would really rather prefer to create a classy brand that dresses lots of rather rich ladies. Now they want to attire the intelligent bourgeoisie – and this was a great first step.
Founded in 2007 by Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, the duo has quietly built a very self-assured brand. They even took a leaf out of the Coco Chanel cookbook with their new ready-to-wear logo: a Double R meeting ampersand design, seen on all white metal lampposts in their set, which recalled the intertwined C of Chanel and W of the Duke of Westminster lampposts studded throughout central London. Now that’s what we call self-assurance.
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