THE DESIGNER of Meghan Markle’s engagement dress allegedly used her company’s cash to fund her lavish lifestyle, court papers have claimed.
Tamara Ralph, 39, and her ex-business partner Michael Russo, 40, “personally enriched themselves” before their company Ralph & Russo collapsed, according to claims in documents released by the High Court.
Ms Ralph is being sued by the company’s administrators for £20.8 million in damages, but has denied any wrongdoing and is defending against the claim.
Ralph & Russo designed the Duchess of Sussex’s £56,000 engagement dress, as well as gowns for stars including Gwyneth Paltrow and Kylie Minogue.
Ms Ralph and Mr Russo, who are both Australian, founded their eponymous label in London in 2010 – and the company was placed into administration in March this year.
Administrators for the company are now suing Ms Ralph, after telling the High Court that she “extracted substantial sums” when she was in “de facto control”.
In newly released legal papers, it is alleged that Ms Ralph spent more than £1,500 on “weekly blow-drys” at the Larry King hair salon in South Kensington, London – and the cost was charged to a company credit card, the Mail on Sunday reports.
Court documents also claim that Ms Ralph spent more than £300 of company cash on luxury lingerie at a store in Paris and £130 on an eyelash treatment.
It has also been claimed that Ms Ralph complained that her £225,000 salary was “extremely low” for someone in her position.
Paul Appleton, a company administrator, said in a witness statement: “The founder directors have personally enriched themselves beyond their contractual entitlements.”
Earlier documents had claimed that Ms Ralph spent company money on “expenses related to her pets, utility bills . . . lingerie, a housekeeper and hair care”.
Ms Ralph rejected the allegations and said the cash problems were “in the main” caused by Mr Russo.
She also claimed he subjected her to a campaign of “abusive bullying, harassment and sex discrimination”.
Mr Russo said Ms Ralph’s allegations are “misleading and false”.
Lawyer Dan Morrison said the £300 spent at Agent Provocateur in Paris was put on a company credit card and then classified as a “loan” to Ms Ralph.
When Ralph & Russo collapsed, Ms Ralph owed £195,436 in director’s loans – which she has since repaid – and Mr Russo owed £2.6 million.
The designer’s spokesman said Ms Ralph did not believe her salary was low, adding she is suing for sex discrimination and victimisation.