“I wanted to do something that would be a little bit of escapism from the moment,” said designer Tamara Ralph of Ralph & Russo of her approach to spring. “We decided to get inspired by a South American summer, take everyone abroad and make them dream.”
Cue her first Paris Fashion Week film, a runway presentation inspired by South America set in front of rolling digital waves created by a South Korean team, filmed in London with a virtual reality component. Welcome to the future.
(British firm PhotonLens created a VR experience with bespoke headsets and hardware that were sent to certain influencers to enhance the viewing experience.)
Aptly titled “La Futura,” the collection is a first for the brand in another way, too — it marks the launch of the first Ralph & Russo swimwear and beachwear in collaboration with La Perla. The collaboration comes after La Perla Fashion Investment BV took a $50 million, non-controlling minority share in Ralph & Russo last year.
“It’s a little more casual for us, it’s very wearable and takes you through a lot of different scenarios,” said Ralph of the punchy lineup of off-the-shoulder blouses, high-waisted shorts, fuchsia pink and orange shorts suiting, tropical print pants and cropped sweaters, some of it worn with sneakers for a new down-to-earthiness for the label, further underscored by raffia pompom decorated bags.
Ralph offered plenty for lounge living at the beach or anywhere, including a chic white pantsuit with tie-front blazer-blouse, metallic geometric foulard-print pajamas dressy enough for dinner, and a starlet’s sorbet pink quilted cotton Bermuda shorts and halter bikini top set. Speaking of swimwear, Ralph & Russo has a distinctive take on the category, distinguished by lots of texture, as on a sand-hued one piece, cutout over the middle, covered in soutache embroidery, a wardrobe piece itself that shouldn’t just be limited to waterwear.
For gimlet nights, eveningwear was relaxed but still elevated — a hot pink silk jumpsuit with a sparkly belt, for example, and a draped zigzag sequined gown, again worn with sneakers. Overall, though, Ralph kept the feathers and sequins to a minimum, offering draped jersey or silk goddess gowns, and a finale of tiered cotton peasant dresses in cheery brights, creating a vibe that was more getaway than gala.
It was a welcome loosening up for the brand, which should be a step toward more broad exposure and accessibility for Ralph & Russo, beyond just princesses and A-list Hollywood stars. Other juicy, brand entry-level extras included chunky gold earrings and necklaces, woven visors and codesigned sunglasses with Linda Farrow.
As for the business, Ralph said the opening of the New York store had to be pushed from April to early next year because of the pandemic and construction delays. Event dressing, which is the brand’s bread and butter, was impacted through the summer but things are starting to look up again, particularly for her couture label. “Clients want to get back into planning weddings and events that celebrate life,” she said. “We are actually seeing a double up of events, ones that were postponed that are now happening, as well as new events. And people are planning much more in advance, we’re getting more inquiries for summer of next year.” The power of positive thinking.