British couture house Ralph & Russo has signed a lease with Thor Equities to open a 5,800-square-foot flagship at 680 Madison Avenue. The building, between 61st and 62nd Streets, is also home to Tom Ford’s 12,300-square-foot flagship and a 7,000-square-foot Brioni unit.
Ralph & Russo operates a maison in London’s tony Mayfair district, while a main boutique at Harrods — one of three in the store — sells couture, shoes and leather goods. There’s also an atelier in Paris, which, like the London maison sees clients “strictly by appointment.”
Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, the Australian couple who are partners in business and life, have grown their small couture atelier, which was founded in 2007, into a force that caters to international celebrities, billionaires and royalty on several continents.
They know that couture, while dependent on skilled artisans steeped in tradition, must be accessible to clients, who want the exclusivity and craftsmanship inherent in couture, but also want it to fit into their lifestyle.
Ralph & Russo launched ready-to-wear in September during London Fashion Week, to make their aesthetic available to customers who can’t afford couture, as well as to further expand their reach.
There’s been whispers that Meghan Markle could tap Ralph & Russo for her wedding gown; she wore the house’s designs for her engagement photos.
Ralph & Russo in 2014 became the first British house in a century to be invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show on the official Paris schedule. That year, Phones 4U billionaire John Caudwell took a 7 percent stake in the company, and Ralph & Russo received a nine-figure valuation.
“We are pleased to welcome Ralph & Russo to New York,” said Joe Sitt, chief executive officer of Thor Equities, which owns the building. “This favored brand of royalty, Hollywood stars and A-listers is the ideal fit for 680 Madison Avenue, a premier retail building located on one of the city’s most upscale shopping corridors.”