Weddings and fashion shows have something key in common. When attending either, guests wait in excited anticipation for a grand entrance, and a first sighting of The Dress. On Friday, these elements will combine, as the couturiers Ralph & Russo join us at the museum to put on a very special event for our Fashion in Motion series.
Having received the great honour of an invitation from France’s Chambre Syndicate de la Haute Couture in 2013, Ralph & Russo are the only British brand to show on the official Paris Haute Couture Week schedule. This status is a fitting reflection of both the keen craftsmanship of the label’s work, and of their cited inspiration of couture’s heyday in the 1940s and 1950s. Lead by creative director Tamara Ralph and CEO Michael Russo, their work combines fantasy with a strong backbone of quality and craft. A rarity in the age of global branding, Ralph & Russo do not have a ready-to-wear line; instead, they focus solely on couture and bespoke commissions.
Such an individualised approach to each and every one of their designs makes the brand particularly suited to creating bridal wear. The 3,900 hours of embroidery which went into just one of the wedding dress designs shown by the brand this summer outdid even the total time spent creating Galliano’s detailed masterpiece for Kate Moss. As a reflection of this, and in connection to our exhibition ‘Wedding Dresses 1775-2014’, the show will close with a spectacular bridal wear finale. As well as creating an excellent opportunity to see the way such dresses move and fit the figure, I am intrigued to see if any comparisons crop up between the designs on show in the exhibition, and those sashaying through the gallery. Do let me know if you spot any.
Ralph used the work of interiors photographer Massimo Listri as the stylistic stimulus for the label’s latest show. In a recent interview with Vogue, Ralph explained that while preparing the collection she imagined what her customer would want to wear to move in such exquisite settings. This creative process makes our Fashion in Motion programme an all the more appropriate medium through which to showcase some of the label’s favourite looks from its oeuvre. Against the backdrop of our Raphael gallery, the gowns will be seen in their full glory and natural grand habitat. Fashion shows are usually held in a closed, industry-only environment, and this is particularly true of Couture Week in Paris. Fashion in Motion allows us to bring these settings and pieces to a wider audience, transforming the show into an interactive museum piece in the process.
If you were lucky enough to get hold of a free ticket to one of the shows, then we look forward to seeing you there. If you didn’t, then worry not, as there should be plenty of coverage on social media to give you a sneak peak. I will also be putting up a blog post early next week covering the event, with photos of the show and perhaps some behind the scenes snippets. In the meantime, search for and use the hashtag #FashioninMotion and keep your eye on the V&A accounts. Let the glamour begin!