TWO Australians hit the jackpot when Meghan Markle decided to wear one of their fairytale-like gowns. But she is not the first celebrity they have dressed.- MelbourneTv
THEY are the fashion pair that have just become a household name.
If you hadn’t heard of Australian designer duo Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, you’d be forgiven because their gowns will set you back a small fortune.
The pair — whose label Ralph & Russo has been worn by Beyonce, Angelina Jolie and Blake Lively — have hit the jackpot overnight, with one of their stunning handmade creations being picked up by bride-to-be Meghan Markle for her engagement photo shoot with Prince Harry.
The stunning $75,000 gown, reportedly from the label’s autumn/winter 2016 collection, features floor-length black tulle with a silk organza skirt, hand appliqued with silk tulle ruffles, and an entirely sheer bodice decorated with intricate gold feather thread-work.
The duo behind the stunning gown originate from Australia, with Ralph being the fourth generation in her family to work in couture and fashion design.
After graduating from the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Melbourne she travelled to London in hopes of breaking into the fashion industry.
Ralph started her design career by making clothes for herself, after watching her mum, grandmother and great-grandmother create clothes.
“I had to sit and watch for years,” she said. “I wasn’t allowed to touch anything, which drove me crazy. Aged 10 I was finally allowed to start doing things.
“I’d rip up vintage clothes and reconstruct them. I created pieces from scratch.
“All my friends wanted what I was wearing.”
By age 15, Ralph was selling “to clients who weren’t just friends, to society ladies”, but it wasn’t until a chance encounter with Michael Russo, an Australian banker working in London, the duo launched Ralph & Russo in 2006.
The label earned its global recognition as the first British guest member in over a century to be accepted by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. All of their dresses are made by hand, and can take up to 3000 hours to make. According to The Times, the label — despite its price tag — sells around 250 couture garments a month.
The brand’s celebrity following includes Beyonce, Jennifer Lopez and Naomi Campbell.
In 2013, the Ralph and Russo were included in Fortune’s “40 under 40” — which is the magazine’s annual ranking of influential young businesspeople. They were the first fashion label to feature in the list.
“A couture piece isn’t just an investment, it’s a piece of art,” Ralph says. “It’s something you should be able to pull out in 40 years and it still be relevant.”
The brand, which is based in London, prides itself on fairytale-like gowns at luxury prices.
“It’s important to know what women want,” she said.