EXCLUSIVE Q&A: Ralph & Russo On Dressing Beyonce And Angelina!

06 June 2012 by

Do you know Ralph & Russo? Scroll through the gallery of the brand’s mega fashion moments above and you’ll kick yourself for not recognising the wow-factor of this Australian design duo. But the thing is, they’re surprisingly low-key. Despite the fact that the pair has created some of Beyoncé and Angelina Jolie’s most memorable outfits – including B’s most recent stage costumes for her first performance since the birth of Blue Ivy - they’ve managed to remain chicly under the radar. Even with the constant TV exposure of Dannii Minogue and Amanda Holden hitting up the creative talents of their London atelier for show-stopping Saturday night outfits, the label has remained an enigma…. Until now!

Grazia Daily: Why did you decide when launching the label in 2007 that couture was the best idea?
Michael Russo: As we started developing our contact base in the UK and listening to our audience, we decided to purely focus on made-to-measure couture. Clients were looking for that unique piece that nobody else would have for special occasions and it wasn’t easy to find in London, particularly without a lead-time of three to six months. We specialise in couture eveningwear, cocktail pieces, bridal wear and daywear and the process allows us to work closely with individual clients on each piece and deliver a truly bespoke service.

GD: Have you noticed a higher demand for couture in the past year? If so, why do you think that is?
Michael: The last year has been really busy for Ralph & Russo and we have seen significant growth in the US, Russia and Middle East. In the Middle East clients tend to purchase a number of gowns for one wedding - as there are so many pre-wedding events. We pride ourselves on the overall experience we provide our clients with. Each customer is assigned a VIP Client Manager who is there to facilitate every need - from arranging a chauffeur driven car to collect them and take them to their appointment, to keeping them updated on the progress of their gown, sourcing anything to accompany from jewellery to hair and make-up artists and even arranging someone to help the client get dressed into their gown for their event!

GD: How long did it take to create Beyonce’s amazing Atlantic City outfits? How many did you create in all and where did the inspiration come from?
Tamara Ralph: Beyoncé and her team wanted to launch Revel Resort at Atlantic City with a modern showgirl idea - which was perfect. The brief provided us with the flexibility to create fun and edgy couture designs that had an ultra-glamorous feel to them. We put together around 20 designs which were shortlisted to a final selection of four, and two headpieces. Beyoncé has great style and stage presence and we wanted to ensure this was reflected in each element of the design from the style, fit, fabric selection and embellishment with over 500,000 Swarovski Elements . 

GD: How many people and man hours does it take to create a stage costume like one of Beyoncé from the show?
Tamara: We can usually create custom made couture pieces within three to five weeks. With something like Beyoncé’s pieces, we had a team of 20 couturiers working around the clock on the outfits which were completed in 4 weeks!

GD: Has anyone ever come in to your atelier and asked to have an exact copy of a celebrity piece?

Tamara: All the time! Every time an A-list celebrity such as Beyoncé or Angelina Jolie wears Ralph & Russo we are inundated with hundreds of enquiries! Earlier this year we made a stunning white silk crepe gown with a hand dyed organza flower for Angelina Jolie which was really popular, but we work with each client to create a variation of their favourite designs.

GD: What do you think is the Ralph & Russo signature throughout all of your creations?
Michael: Ralph & Russo gowns are always show stopping pieces that are designed to be glamorous and feminine. There is no signature ‘look’ as such, as we prefer to design specifically for each individual. But we are renowned for working closely with each of our clients to create flattering cuts for their body shape by taking an extensive set of measurements every time they place a new order.

GD: What do you think is the record of Swarovski crystals used in one dress of yours?
Tamara: The most intricate gown we have ever worked on was a sheer tulle open back fishtail gown with a dramatic bespoke jewelled back-piece. The gown was adorned with over 152,000 Swarovski Elements and took up to 30 couturiers three months to make.

GD: So you couldn’t live without crystals… what else could you not live without?

Tamara and Michael: Our phones!

GD: Are there any other ladies you’d like to worth with?
Tamara: We feel privileged to have such an amazing client base which includes A-list celebrities, international royalty, business women and jetsetters, but we would love to see Charlize Theron in a Ralph & Russo gown one day.....

GD: Charlize – listen up! You’d look simply divine in a Ralph & Russo number….


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