Among the European Fashion Houses you will hardly find a Fashion House with such Imperial credentials as Maison IRFĒ, which was founded in 1924 in Paris by the Youssoupoffs, a princely couple, who gave their initials to form the name of the House.


Princess Irina Romanova Yousoupoff
She was Princess Irina Romanova, a young dazzling beauty niece of Emperor Nicolas II.
V. Serov. Portrait of Prince Felix Youssoupoff. 1903
He – Prince Felix Youssoupoff, Count Sumarokov-Elston was the descendant of an ancient line of Monarchs, one of the most handsome men of Russia. The heir of a fabulous fortune ( the Youssoupoffs were deemed to be wealthier than the Tsar himself ),he was closely related to Russian and European aristocracy.
Arkhangelskoye Estate
Felix Youssoupoff grew up in one of the most respectable families in Russia and its sumptuous palaces. Therefore, he possessed an immaculate taste formed by his family history and the beauty around him . Since early childhood he had admired his mother’s beauty and her perfect outfits, her legendary huge diamonds and rare pearls. Such a rarefied atmosphere would later on be his inspiration for the interiors he designed and the exotic Oriental furnishings that were characteristic of Maison IRFĒ.


Prince and Princess Youssoupoff at their wedding. St.Petersburg, 1914.
The wedding of this legendary couple came down in history. It was the last wedding in the Emperor’s family before the beginning of the First World War, which reached the young couple during their honeymoon in Germany. After the revolution Youssoupoff’s family immigrated to Europe. In Italy ,they had a large villa in Corsica – an estate, and Paris, a city they knew well, appeared as a romantic refuge to them. They bought a house near le Parc des Princes in Boulogne-sur-Seine. There, the Prince set up a charming little theatre where Maison IRFĒ subsequently started.


The idea of opening their own Fashion House came to the Prince after a trip to the United States (according to a rumor, in order to open Maison IRFĒ, he had to sell a unique diamond called “Polar Star” to Cartier jewelers). The inauguration of Maison IRFĒ took place in 1924 in the Ritz hotel – Place Vendome and culminated with a spectacular ball. The models appeared after midnight, among them was Irina Youssoupoff, who made a lasting impression even on the Parisians, who were very critical. Irina was famous in the French capital for her beauty. Her Aristocratic allure and flawless features attracted the most famous photographers who took countless pictures of Irina wearing IRFĒ. However, she did not consider herself to be a fashion model.
Drawings of models of Maison IRFĒ from magazines Paris Elegance and L’Art et La Mode.e.1928, Paris
Friends and relatives of the Youssoupoffs: Irina’s brother, Prince Nikita Romanov with his wife Princess Maria Vorontsova-Dashkova, Mikhail and Nonna Kalashnikovs formed a team in the creation of the collection. IRFĒ models were very modern – androgynous with the hairstyle called “à la garçon”. Here are the impressions of a French journalist about the models of Maison IRFĒ, 1925: “Original and refined taste, minute work and artistic vision of the colour have immediately placed this atelier among the ranks of large Fashion Houses”.
Princess Youssoupoff in a Maison IRFĒ dress. Paris, 1920.
Princess Mia Obolenskaya in IRFĒ dress. Paris, 1930.
The success of Maison IRFĒ relied heavily on its founder Irina Romanova. She was famous for her beauty in Paris of the 1920’s. The models – beautiful princesses and countesses, were able to talk about the outfits in several languages, and contributed to the success of the House. Soon IRFĒ opened three new branches in Normandy, London and Berlin. The success of the House allowed Youssoupoff to develop new lines of activities. They opened a porcelain store and the Prince himself took part in the decoration of three Parisian restaurants.


Tennis outfit, drawing from Vogue. Paris. June, 1928
Advertisement of Maison IRFĒ from Vogue.1926
French Vogue about the IRFĒ collection of 1929: “The collection that you see is a selection at the same time, since it has no unsuccessful models”. The magazine has presented a “Bat-dress” with original cut and “The Water Lilies” dress. Sports models deserve special attention.


In 1926, IRFE launched its own signature fragrance. The range of IRFE perfumes, was produced in limited editions and aimed at four categories of women: Blonde – for blondes, Brunette – for brunettes, Titiane – for brown-haired and finally the noble Gray Silver – for women of an “elegant age”. IRFE was the first house to individually target women in such a unique way. Silver Gray was specifically dedicated to Empress Maria Fyodorovna.
Felix and Irina were the co-authors of the fragrances. Fragrances were produced at Molinard in Grasse. All four versions of the fragrance had a sharp, spicy Eastern quality. The design and advertising poster featuring a rectangular bottle with a faceted black cap was created by Princess Margarita of Greece.
Advertisement for Maison IRFE perfume from the 1920s. Vogue magazine.
IRFĒ rapidly conquered chic European and American customers who were dazzled by its aristocratic founders. The family business expanded and prospered. Maison IRFĒ launched their flagship store at 19, Rue Duphot in Paris and then flourished with a further three branches in Normandy, London and Berlin. Maison IRFĒ closed in 1931. Only the production of perfume with its legendary fragrances continued until the 1940s.
After almost eighty years of sleep, Maison IRFĒ reopened again by new owner Olga Sorokina at Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris in 2008. In 2016, the headquarters and design studio of the Maison IRFE moved to New York.