The couture line that Balenciaga launched this summer is another thing that has permanent residency in my brain. I think that what Demna [Gvasalia, creative director] is doing with sculpture and architecture through fashion is some of the most interesting theatre of our time. It’s like a marriage of Romantic and gothic style – it’s a bit ecclesiastical, almost monastic, and I want it all. There’s this really wonderful circular headpiece that feels like: “I’m going to service, but in the year 3021.”
Ralph & Russo is an international luxury fashion brand known for its designs that are described as both contemporary and timelessly elegant. The brand was created in London in 2010 by Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo. In 2014, it became the first British guest member in almost 100 years to be invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show their first runway collection as part of the Spring/Summer season.
In an inclusive interview with founders, Tamara and Michael, Euronews’ Jane Witherspoon got the lowdown on the iconic brand.
How did the brand come about, what did you want that brand to stand for?
Tamara Ralph: It really grew out of a passion for luxury and craftsmanship and design. I come from four generations of fashion and haute couture in my family. And when we had a chance meeting, it was something that we talked about, setting up a luxury brand. And we always had a vision to have a global luxury brand.
You were invited to join the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture in Paris, the first British brand to showcase a Fashion Week in almost 100 years.
Tamara Ralph: It was really quite a big milestone and the first Australians ever to be invited. And you know it was always something that was very important for the brand. To be recognised by the Chambless Syndicale was an incredibly important achievement.
We had obviously, the support of Didier Grumbach, at the time who was the president and was actually responsible for discovering a lot of the big names in fashion and nurturing their careers. So it was wonderful to have the support.
How do you personally define couture?
Tamara Ralph: Couture is an art. You know, all of our clients that purchase couture, they purchase it for generations. It’s really something that’s an investment. It’s like a piece of jewellery. It’s something that you’ll pass down and keep forever. And for us, that’s really special.
How have dressmaking techniques changed over the years? How have you adopted the changes? Have you stayed traditional?
Tamara Ralph: So we have a really big atelier, actually, that specialises in the couture side. And then we have obviously craftsmen in the house that specialise in other product categories, such as ready to wear and things like that. But in the couture atelier, there’s forty-five languages spoken. There’s ages ranging from 16 all the way up until the 60s. And it’s really nice to have that mix of the old techniques get more modern applications and things like that. We like to push and constantly innovate. We run apprentice programmes in-house where we can train and develop and innovate as well. So that’s really important.
You’ve dressed many wonderful clients, like Meghan Markle. Is that a challenge? How exciting or daunting is it?
Tamara Ralph: No, I think it was very it was very exciting, obviously, you know.
I think it was such an iconic moment because obviously not just because of the two of them, but also because of her choice of piece for the day, which was, you know, a little bit different to what I think, you know, some people were expecting. And I think that’s nice. It showed her personality. It pushed the boundaries.
Do your clients have much input if you’re designing something specific and special for them, or do you come up with the idea and see it through to completion?
Tamara Ralph: Both
Michael Russo: We’ve had some really diverse celebrity moments from stage outfits for Beyonce to the costume outfits for Angelina Jolie, for Maleficent. It’s been so diverse. So the challenge is always there.
Tamara Ralph: Yeah but also I think with clients, all of our private clients, it’s a very personal experience, you know, no matter if they’re a celebrity or a private client. And, you know, we love to guide them and be part of the process and be very involved.
How hard has it been to showcase virtually?
Tamara Ralph: It was an evolution, that’s for sure. I think that it’s difficult to create the connection that you have with the physical show. I think that was something that was the hardest part to kind of keep, alive. But I loved the innovations and things.
I thought it was very interesting just to push the boundaries with digital, to play with new ideas. But, you know, I think that the traditional fashion shows are still very important and are important to get that sense of what the collection is about, So, you know, a balance of both going forward. I think one is just as important as the other.
Why did you choose to launch in Dubai?
Michael Russo: Well, I think Dubai has got such a 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 akin to Ralph & Russo and well known to Ralph & Russo. For us in this region, it was definitely our first flagship in the region.
Would you say you have a different clientele in Dubai?
Michael Russo: I think in Dubai we find that there’s a lot of tourists here and those tourists are typically Ralph Russo clients already. So the products that we’re offering here are still akin to the ones that we use worldwide and I think relevant to our worldwide customer as well as the local market. So I think it’s a nice little mix of local and international clients.
Do you think that the fashion scene in Dubai is growing? How does it compare to known fashion cities like New York, Milan, London and Paris.
Tamara Ralph: Well, I think it’s definitely, you know, integral to the Gulf region. Yeah, you know, it’s really the hub of the region. It’s so incredibly international. And I think, you know, it’s a huge destination for fashion for the region. So, yeah, I think it’s incredibly important.
You’re about to become a mum for the first time, how is that going to change your work-life balance?
Tamara Ralph: Yeah, of course. I mean, it teaches you definitely to kind of find that balance, which I think I probably didn’t have before. And so, you know, I have a great team.
You know, we have an amazing support structure internally in the company. And we’ll find a way, you know, and plus it might be a chance to kind of venture into a full fledged childrenswear line. You know, well, I’m having a girl, so now we have our first model.
You’re expanding into accessories, are there beauty lines down the line?
Tamara Ralph: What’s been amazing actually through, just before Covid and also through Covid is, you know, a few different things. We were able to kind of reset our thinking, focus on what we’d like to achieve in the next couple of years. And so, you know, cosmetics and beauty is something we’re very interested in. Home and furnishings and everything connected to that sector is actually something that we’ve been slowly putting in the works for a little bit of time.
On my radar: Moses Sumney’s cultural highlights
theguardian– Singer-songwriter Moses Sumney, 29, grew up between Ghana and California and studied creative writing and poetry at UCLA. His piercing falsetto and genre-defying music have brought him critical acclaim, starting with his self-recorded 2014 EP Mid-City Island, followed in 2017 by his debut album, Aromanticism, and the 2020 double album Græ. Sumney has collaborated with musicians including Bon Iver and James Blake and toured with Solange and Sufjan Stevens. His latest project is Blackalachia, a self-directed concert film created in association with WePresent, shot over two days in the Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina, where he lives.
Selling Sunset (Netflix)
I pity anyone who hasn’t seen this show. It’s a reality show about a real estate agency in west Hollywood, and it follows the lives and deals of the people who work there, predominantly the female staff who are all ridiculously Barbie-ish – essentially “career Barbie on crack”. It’s incredible. I love reality TV – it tells us a lot about humanity. Reality shows are always inherently dated, so they’re a great capsule of the modern era.
Don’t Be So Hard On Your Own Beauty by Yeule
I don’t know what it is about this song, but I’m addicted to it. Yeule is a Singaporean artist based in London who’s kind of new on the scene, and this song is just so hypnotising – it hints and winks at hyperpop while being an absolutely heart-shattering folk tune. It’s a beautiful amalgamation of a lot of different genres, and it’s stunning. I have a lot of playlists – for driving, for chilling at night, a morning playlist, a folk playlist – and this is in all of them.
How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
I’m currently reading this – I put off reading it because it looks like a self-help book – but it’s really fascinating. The author is an artist who works largely in digital art and the book is about how to free yourself from the capitalist trappings of the workforce – not necessarily saying “quit your job”, but suggesting a new path for work. It asks the question: how can we construct our identities apart from defining ourselves by what we do and by our income? It’s a very radical book, and it’s often a hard read. But it has been mind-shifting.
Western North Carolina
I’ve been travelling a lot for work, so I’ve been thinking about how much I would prefer to spend my time in western North Carolina, particularly in the mountains, where I live. I think it’s the most beautiful place in the world. I first arrived in Asheville when I was on tour and knew immediately I wanted to live here. You turn around, 360 degrees in any direction, and you’re surrounded by trees, by the sound of animals, and that’s really a rare feeling for anyone who’s spent most of their life, as I have, living in the city.
Eve’s Bayou (Kasi Lemmons, 1997)
This stars a young Jurnee Smollett, who recently had a resurgence with Lovecraft Country. She’s 10 years old in the film, which is set in a fictional small town in Louisiana. Samuel L Jackson stars as the patriarch of the family, who is maybe cheating on his wife, his daughter sets out to kill him and punish him, perhaps through witchcraft. It was incredibly critically acclaimed and subsequently snubbed by every major award ceremony. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaking film. I first saw it last year and I think about it every day.
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Hong Kong’s famous Tiananmen Square ‘Pillar of Shame’ statue removed from university
Il Divo singer Carlos Marin dies aged 53
bbc– Il Divo’s Carlos Marin has died aged 53, the classical group has announced.
Marin would be “missed by his friends, family and fans”, a statement on social media said. “There will never be another voice or spirit like Carlos.”
The group had said they were praying for Marin’s recovery after he was admitted to hospital this month leading them to postpone a UK Christmas tour.
The male quartet was brought together by Simon Cowell in 2003 and achieved three UK number one albums.
Marin was born in Germany, but moved to Spain at the age of 12 and was a baritone in the group, performing alongside tenors Urs Buhler and David Miller, and pop singer Sebastien Izambard.
“Singing is my way of saying what I feel, my way of life,” he is quoted as saying on the group’s website.
“Singing is what makes me feel alive, so thank you for letting me continue making a living from what I love.”
Spanish newspaper El Pais reported Marin had been taken ill during the UK tour and placed into an induced coma at a hospital in Manchester. The nature of his illness has not been disclosed.
Il Divo’s international composition helped them achieve notable success across several worldwide tours.
Their hits included Regresa a Mi (Unbreak My Heart), The Time Of Our Lives, and I Believe In You – a duet with Celine Dion – as well as a version of Adele’s Hello.
They sold more than 30 million records, and had 160 gold and platinum discs across more than 33 countries, the group’s website said.
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