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February 15, 2012

Ralph & Russo at Coutts

By Spear's

Coutts has taken banks’ public image problem more literally than most. Walk past their Strand headquarters, and you will notice a hip new window display, showcasing a strapless red gown by British designers Ralph & Russo.

Coutts has taken banks’ public image problem more literally than most. Walk past their Strand headquarters, and you will notice a hip new window display, showcasing a strapless red gown by British designers Ralph & Russo.

The gown itself is spectacular, the product of hundreds of hours work by 12 couturiers, who embroidered over 100 metres of feathered silk chiffon flowers onto a skirt almost wide enough for a big fat gypsy wedding — but too elegant by far.

It is one of several collaborations designed to show that Coutts and couture are natural partners: the bank sponsors London Fashion Week, the Walpole luxury awards and will sponsor the spring 2012 ‘Ballgown: British Glamour Since 1950’ exhibition at the V&A.

Coutts has a number of explanations for its recently discovered passion for fashion, which range from the romantic: the bank that once handled Charles Dickens’ affairs has always had a soft spot for the arts, to the pragmatic: the luxury industry is one of the few areas of global growth, and the creative: there are similarities between the bespoke, personal, tailored service offered by couturiers and private bankers.

In her black strapless dress and knee-high boots, and his slick grey suit, Michael Russo and Tamara Ralph might look out of place among the pinstripes, but they insist they have a natural kinship with their besuited partners. ‘We both offer bespoke services, and we’re catering to the same clients, so there’s a lot of potential for synergy.’ By introducing clients in Dubai to the design pair, Coutts hopes to demonstrate how lucrative such synergy can be.

The Hedgehog has observed with bemusement a number of recent unlikely fashion collaborations: Alexander Wang for Starbucks, Preen for Debenhams, Versace for H&M. Could this be the HNW equivalent?
 

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