The Ralph & Russo notes heralded "a spectacle of love-laden wonders" as the season's heroine runs away from her regal responsibilities for a romance with Rasputin. However, it was immediately evident that the duo's muse doesn't do barefoot on the forest heath. A backless emerald silk sheath with asymmetric pleats was as simple as it ever got.
Everywhere else, it was floral bas-reliefs, metallic threadwork, beading, and mink pompom tassels. Silhouettes here and there showed awareness of contemporary must-haves, like a black satin jumpsuit, or crepe palazzo pants with a crop top – although admittedly, no skin was on display at the junction between top and bottom. A plunge neckline on a shimmering navy dress went a long way to evoke the sensuality of the runaway royal. Few, if any of the shapes, tilled any ground, and a fair number of them reprised imported couture "hits" from seasons past. A pearl skittered down the runway, free of its companions and thread – it wouldn't be too hard for the court to chase down the wayward girl thanks to these precious breadcrumbs. The theme gave some substance to the train of thought of the season, but barely.
Frankly, what felt missing here was a sign of the artistry of cloth that makes Tamara Ralph a hot ticket with her clientele. Gilded within an inch of its embroidered life, many of these silhouettes were dazzling to the point of losing definition in their construction. Timeless – if by that you mean that this could have easily been a collection from 1966. But when many red-carpet gowns today are about flashing skin rather than elegance, you could see the appeal of something more classically lady-like.
Despite the glittering armor that would put Smaug to shame, there was an innocent, almost naive undertone that spoke of a girlish love unaware of danger. After all, no one canny enough would run headlong into a haunted forest in a gown requiring four white-gloved attendants to turn it around. The doomed daughters of Nikolai Romanov, defenseless for all their glittering treasures, were not far off.
(Re)discover the Spring/Summer 2015 Haute Couture collection right here.