Known for its opulent gowns, statement pieces, meticulous craftsmanship and style, which reflects its Old World glamour aesthetic, the privately owned British luxury brand, Ralph & Russo opens its first 2,250-square-foot boutique at Fashion Avenue in The Dubai Mall. Long popular with Middle Eastern clients, there is now a space where the brand’s regional fans can indulge in Ralph & Russo’s timeless creations, and one that offers an interior design representative of the quintessence of the label, devised by Tamara Ralph herself.
“We wanted to have the brand’s pillars shine through the interior design through all of the retail spaces and ultimately, the feeling of the house,” says Tamara. “It’s about how you feel when you walk into one of our boutiques as well as the smell; it’s an experience and should not just be about the product.” Launched in 2010 in a 30-square-foot office, the label was built upon passion and a dream and quickly became renowned for its pivotal style and craftsmanhip, becoming the first and only British Couture House in nearly 100 years to be invited to show on the official Paris Haute Couture week. “I have always loved interiors so when we decided to roll out our flagship plan of stores around the world I was so excited to work on the interiors,” adds Ralph. “It’s so closely linked to fashion. It’s about creating emotion and feeling and it was something I had worked on with my mother growing up who was in fashion and then went into interiors.” Ralph and her partner Michael Russo wanted each store to incorporate references to the house but also details from the local culture of the country in which they were opening. “We wanted the space to feel almost residential, like a home. When we decided to open the Maison in London we wanted it to feel like a home. Clients come here and spend a long time here. It’s not just a space to display the couture and accessories but about the whole vibe and experience. We always wanted to have large seating areas and fireplaces – elements that take it back to a residential vibe even though it is a retail store.”
Ralph & Russo moodboard
Sumptuous fabrics, a soft pastel colour palette and lavish embellishments are all elements from Ralph & Russo that make their way into the décor of the boutique. “I love a modern classic feeling within the interiors of a space, even in the furniture we designed all of it ourselves, even all of the materials – everything is a bespoke design with fabric from our artisans in Italy.” The process was long but fulfilling – one that took Ralph & Russo’s couture style into the interiors of a retail space.
“We love the Middle East, how the women appreciate detail, and getting dressed up and the exclusive elements of our brand speak to that,” says Tamara. “It made sense for us to open in Dubai. It’s also a city where our international clients in addition to our regional shoppers to visit.”
The store launch comes at a time of great expansion for the brand. “There will be almost 10 openings in the first quarter of next year,” adds Tamara. “This includes quite a few plans for other parts of the Middle East, Europe, Asia and the US this year.” In addition, the brand launched its ready-to-wear collection last year, extending its designs now across four collections, including two pre-collections, two catwalk collections and a growing shoe and accessory line.
“We want to open exclusive luxury boutique experiences for our clients and really focus on a smaller number of first openings.” Dubai is the second boutique opening after London. “They all have the same aesthetic for the overall feel but have different detailing based on the region it is located in it. It’s about the vibe of the city. We wanted each space to be unique and on its own so that clients can visit and see a new environment.” Calming tones, such as ivories, whites, silvers, champagnes mixed with dark woods and the brand’s house colours of pale greys and rose gold, in addition to lots of mirrors, are the details that define the Ralph & Russo space. “I have always been a fan of Art Deco as well,” adds Tamara. “Retail boutiques need to be an immersive experience where the client connects with the brand visually, physically and emotionally. This is our universe.”
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