Ralph & Russo duo Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo are taking their fashion house to new heights. Words by Sophia Charalambous
The day the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were presented to the world in a flurry of official photographs, one aspect in particular created a furore – Meghan’s dress.
It was a black gown, with a sheer bodice, strategically adorned with beads, finished with a full-length ruffle skirt.
The designer? Ralph & Russo.
“She looked beautiful. It felt amazing, and makes everything worthwhile – the endless hours, the hard work, the unrelenting pace,” designer Tamara tells Mayfair Times.
The label was founded by Australians Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo nearly a decade ago.
They are the first British fashion house in over a century to be accredited with the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
Chance meeting on the King's Road
It was a chance meeting that brought this pair together. The bumped into each other on the King’s Road and bonded over their native accents.
At the time, Michael had just sold a company within the business consultancy realm.
“Of course, it was challenging at first,” he says.
“Neither of us had any fashion industry contacts in London so we really had to do our research before we put
ourselves out there.
“We wanted to make sure we knew the message and direction of the brand, before we communicated it publicly.”
Tamara adds: “We quite literally set up shop in one small room with a computer and a sewing machine – just myself, Michael and our first employee – who now runs our Atelier.”
Those days must now seem like a distant memory, with a private London townhouse in Mayfair.
Here they showcase new, archived and never before seen handcrafted, bespoke pieces and designs.
They also have their European flagship store in Monaco’s prestigious One-Monte Carlo complex.
The pair, who live in Knightsbridge, admit to spending most of the their time in Mayfair, with favourite spots including Annabel’s, Kai and Halcyon Gallery.
The house also made the decision to move into ready-to-wear in 2018. But they both believe couture still has a long future.
Tamara explains: “There has been a real resurgence in an appreciation for true craftsmanship, spanning all backgrounds and all ages.
“In a world full of fast fashion and trends that come and go, there will always be the individual that covets couture”
“Couture represents the fairy tale. We don’t see this industry slowing down, and in fact we only anticipate it getting bigger,” she said.
In 2013, the couple were the only representatives from the fashion industry on Forbes’ annual list of the 40 most successful people under 40.
But they are under no illusion about the tenacity required to succeed in such a competitive market as fashion.
Tamara explains: “Perseverance really does pay off – I went from creating dresses in my bedroom in Australia, to forming a business of just three people from sketches, to the Creative Director of a global luxury brand.
“If you are really passionate about something just keep working at it. Whilst it may take years before you start seeing results, those results will come.”