IRFE "from Russia with love"

23.04.2012 | Corporate communication

IRFE "from Russia with love"



Founded in Paris in 1924 by Prince Felix Youssoupoff and his wife Irina, the niece of the last Russian Tsar Nicolas II, IRFE rapidly conquered chic European and American customers who were dazzled by its aristocratic founders. The name of the fashion house was composed of the first syllables of their names, Irina and Felix. Prince Youssoupoff had always loved to sketch fashion designs and possessed a true sense of elegance. The house of IRFE, like the couple that founded it, was elite and refined.

The small business expanded and prospered. The House of IRFE took over a studio worthy of its growing reputation at 19, Rue Duphot in Paris and then opened three new branches in Le Touquet, London and Berlin. Their success was also attributable to the models who were princesses and countesses fluent in several languages. They embodied the style and sophistication of the clothes they were modelling. The range of IRFE perfumes, produced in limited editions, was conceived to give three categories of women - blondes, brunettes and redheads - their own fragrance. The House of IRFE itself closed down in 1931. Only the perfume subsidiary with its legendary fragrances survived until the 1940s.

After being closed for eighty years, the House of IRFE opened for business again at 4, Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. All of its products are luxury ready-to-wear, made in the finest French and Italian workshops. The IRFE design studio in Paris creates all of the house fashions. Aiming to rejoin the ranks of the world’s greatest fashion houses, the IRFE company plans to establish a flagship store in Paris. The IRFE perfume, which was such a big success in the ‘Twenties”, will be revived using the period formulas, miraculously preserved. IRFE will soon be adding luxury jewellery and watches to its range of designer garments and accessories. Originally founded by Russians, the IRFE company and most of its employees today are French. Today, its collection is sold in more than 85 shops in 23 countries.


Princess Irina, born Romanova, was the only niece of Tsar Nicholas II and the favorite granddaughter of Tsar Alexander III. In 1914, this dazzling beauty married Prince Youssoupoff, Count Soumarokov-Elston, a descendent of one of Russia’s oldest families.

Also famous for his astonishing good looks, he studied at Oxford and inherited a huge fortune that was said to be larger than that of the Tsar himself. Owing to his social position and marriage, he frequented the most venerable families of the Russian empire and the most illustrious members of the European aristocracy. The prince grew up in the sumptuous palace belonging to his family. He learned to love beauty and admire perfection from those close to him, especially his mother Princess Zenaida, whose elegance was as renowned as her fabulous jewellery collection containing priceless diamonds and pearls. This environment would later inspire Felix when he created fashion designs for the House of IRFE or decorated its premises.

The lavishness and ceremony displayed at Felix and Irina’s wedding would provide one of the last shows of splendour at the Imperial court before Europe plunged into the chaos of the First World War. Then came the Russian Revolution, which forced Prince and Princess Youssoupoff into exile. The couple set up house in Boulogne outside Paris in the early ‘Twenties and later moved to a small house in the city, where they lived amid an aura of romance and nostalgia. There the Prince set up a charming little theatre where the IRFE fashion house subsequently started up.

Their daughter, Irina, married Count Nikolai Cheremetieff and had a daughter of her own, Xenia, named after her great-grandmother, Grand Duchess Xenia, sister to Nicholas II. Irina now lives between Paris and Athens.


Olga Sorokina is the creative director of the fashion house IRFE, opened its doors after being closed for 80 years.

In 2006 Olga meets Xenia Sheremeteva-Sfyri and decides to throw herself in the adventure of creation, for the rebirth of a mythical House. Olga invited Ksenia to revive the fashion house and so IRFE found a new art director. A retrospective with a symbolic title, Renaissance, took place at the Palais de Tokyo (Paris) so thqt the public could rediscover IRFE.

In fact, Olga became something special for the Fashion House IRFE, because she embodies its founders’ values: refinement, elegance, perfection and attention to detail, corresponding to the spirit of her time. Irfé, this sleeping beauty made in Russian roots and born from the passion of the Youssoupof family, immediately allured her. Royal romanticism and Russian culture and history made this House unique to her, and instantly touched her.

A source of fresh inspiration for the house, she notes:  «By looking ahead and not behind us, we can write a new chapter in the IRFE story. » The day after launching her new collection, she added: «I made the decision, with my people, to work as if the house of IRFE had never stopped operating. »

A princess at heart, this charming young woman is also a true Parisian. She is active as a business professional and in her personal life. Olga is fond of rafting and hiking.

Her creations are like her, sporty and current, but can be worn by any type of woman seeking to affirm her own sense of style.