In conversation with Tamara Ralph
The talented designer at the creative helm of Ralph & Russo talks passionately about her work and the Autumn/Winter 2017 haute couture collection
The sun shines through beautiful curved windows on numerous vases of white orchids precisely placed round the elegant atelier. It reflects its beams on a high baroque large mirror and brightens up bookcases filled with alluring fashion and art and reference volumes. I am sitting with Tamara Ralph at a circular white table at no. 40 Park Street in the heart of Mayfair, one of the most exclusive and elegant areas in London, where the amazing Ralph & Russo boutique and atelier is situated. She has very kindly allowed me to have a conversation about the new collection ahead of the launch during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. While Ms Ralph answers my questions with an irresistibly contagious enthusiasm and passion, the mood boards of the collection for the Autumn/Winter 2017 season, filled with sketches and fabric swatches and samples of trims and examples of beading, come alive, as per magic.
I am always intrigued by the creative process behind each Ralph & Russo collections. Would you mind sharing how the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection come about?
The creative process is never uniform. I am constantly inspired by everything around me, therefore it is often a combination of materials, emotions, art, experiences that comes to play and creates the inspiration of the collection. This season I was fascinated by photography and by its ability to capture the essence of an individual within a single moment. Haute Couture and photography are both so special in this sense. They steered me to work towards producing a collection that represents female identity and female beauty in the modern day, as it had in the past in the images of Richard Avedon, Cecil Beaton and Norman Parkinson.
Is there a specific evolution within the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection in terms of silhouette, colour, shapes and volumes, fabrication, a decorative details?
For fabrication, this season we’ve incorporated a crystal chainmail in an array of metallic shades. It’s beautifully intricate and can only be meshed together by using the smallest hand stitching. Each look is so different and equally encapsulates the spirit of the brand. I am very proud of the entire collection: I really believe that it sits beautifully as a whole body of work.
The Collezioni Haute Couture team is always fascinated by the choice of fabrics in your collections: would you mind sharing with us some details about the fabrics and materials for this collection?
We work with some of the world’s best fabric suppliers across France, Italy and Switzerland to source materials that are truly unique and of the utmost quality. This season we have collaborated closely with the Swiss manufacturers Jakob Schlaepfer to develop rose-gold fringing and materials with silver foil finish.
What are you most passionate about in your work?
Developing new materials and executing craftsmanship at its highest possible standard. When designing, I strive for individuality and excellence and beauty.
What’s around the corner for the brand?
It is going to be a very big year for our brand as we are about to start a major international roll out of boutiques and to launch the ready-to-wear collection in October in Paris.
How do you think living and working in such a vibrant and cosmopolitan city like London is influencing your work?
London is an incredible city because of its international diversity that exudes a phenomenal creative energy. It is difficult, or should we say impossible, not to be influenced by London when it boasts such a wealth of art and by the people who live and work here who are so directional and so forward-thinking.
Needless to say, after the wonderful conversation with Ms Ralph, I just could not wait to see what the Autumn/Winter 2017 collection would look like, , the 56 dreamlike looks reflected perfectly what was anticipated during our conversation. . Obviously, the piece de resistance was the finale: a stunning wedding gown in double duchess and champagne Chantilly lace so intricately hand embroidered with floral motifs in gold, silver, sequins and pearly micro beads that took an astounding 6,000 hours to be completed.