Irfé, a fascinating story and a beautiful RTW Fall 2014 collection

So first of all, Irfé’s last show was amazing and second of all, the story of the Maison is just fascinating that I aboslutely need to write about it.

Let’s start with the Maison itself: Maison IRFE was founded in 1924 in Paris by the Yousoupoff, one of the country’s most glamorous and notorious aristocratic couple. She was Princess Irina Romanova,niece of Imperor Nicolas and the favourite granddaughter of Tsar Alexander III. He — Prince Felix Yousoupoff, Count Sumarokov-Elston was the descendant of an ancient tribe, one of the most handsome men of Russia. He also was the man who’d murdered the peasant mystic Rasputin.

In exile after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, the pair embarked on a dress-design business in Paris (the first two letters of their Christian names forming the title).

Irfé was a hit with American and British customers in Paris during the années folles. Customers were going to the brand to look a murderer in the eye and buy clothes designed and modelled by a princess. 

But in 1927, when Felix launched his first book detailing the killing of Rasputin, things started to change in a negative way for the Maison, turning the Russians of Paris against him. Also, the business suffered a financial crisis. Irfé was saved by a cheque from an American friend, Rosamund, the new Mrs William Kissam Vanderbilt II. But in 1928, an article about Felix’s financial and sexual affairs caused more damage. Irfé was wound up two years after the Wall Street Crash of 1929, unable to survive without its American clients, who had vanished.

The new Irfé, which relaunched in 2006, is a testament to the strength of the Youssoupoffs’ marriage as well as to their fashion house. Olga Sorokina runs Irfé with the blessing of the Youssoupoffs’ granddaughter, Xenia Sfiris.

The last show was absolutely gorgeous. Pieces stick with the house’s androgynous style. A lot of leather, a lot of black and white. And texture. The result was perfect!

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Photos: WWD