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So hath the Internet decreed: Meghan Markle will wear designer Ralph & Russo on her wedding day.
Let’s be clear: There has been no official royal confirmation. However, in early January, a source told E! News that the future royal has chosen a wedding dress designer and the first fitting was well underway. Fast forward to early May, when The Daily Mail reported that Meghan would be wearing a design from London atelier Ralph & Russo. The dress is rumored to feature hand-stitching, beaded embellishments and worth about £100,000, which would be paid for by the royal family.
It wouldn’t be a surprise if the duchess-to-be did wear Ralph & Russo—she wore a gown from the fashion house for the official engagement portrait with Prince Harry. Not to mention, all the signs and the atelier’s growing presence among Hollywood elite.
But what do we really know about Tamara Ralph and Michael Russo, the Australian duo who grew a small atelier into a fashion powerhouse that is outfitting the world’s rich and famous—royalty included?
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Here’s a primer, just in case you want to look like a royal and fashion expert.
The Partners Are a Real Couple: Tamara and Michael are both professionally and romantically involved. They met by happenstance while on a quick trip to London. “She was lost and I was looking,” Michael told Harper’s Bazaar. Their skills complement each other: Ralph oversees design, working as the brand’s creative director while Russo manages the business.
It’s Been an Upward Trajectory: First established in 2007, the small atelier has grown significantly to accommodate international demand. In 2013, the 30-something power couple was featured on Fortune’s 40 most successful business people under 40 list. In 2017, the fashion house was invited by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture to show its collections on the official Paris Couture Week schedule—a very prestigious honor only open to select fashion ateliers (think: Versace, Chanel, Christian Dior) that meet a very specific criteria.
It Serves an International Clientele: While celebrities love the luxury fashion brand—as evidenced by Cannes Film Festival or award season red carpets—its fans run the gamut, from Sheikha Mozah (purported owner London’s most expensive home), to Saudi Arabian princesses, to China’s 1 percent. Each couture gown is made to order, with only one of its kind available on a continent…you know, so there’s no “Who Wore It Better?” overlap.
More Is More: The brand is known for its use of embellishment, beading and 3-D details. If perhaps you see a form-fitting dress walking down its runway, be rest assured it will be covered in floral appliques or feathers. The brand excels in volume and texture. There’s a reason clients pay a premium for its designs, and why Meghan chose a “hand-stitched, heavily beaded design” from the fashion house.
It Has the Queen’s Stamp of Approval: While Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t approved Meghan dress yet, which is customary in royal wedding etiquette. Ralph & Russo designs have been in her majesty’s presence. In 2014, to receive her damehood from the queen, Angelina Jolie wore a pale-grey Ralph & Russo skirt suit to curtsy in front of the head royal.
There’s a More Affordable Collection: Before you get your hopes up, expect to pay luxury designer prices for Ralph & Russo’s ready-to-wear collection. It won’t be as exclusive as its couture collection (which can range from the tens of thousands to six figures), but it will be priced at a more attainable range (think: $1,550 satin wide-leg pants or $4,000 rose-gold metallic skirt).
Given all this info, how much more excited are you to see Meghan’s dress?