The charming designer behind the brand, TEMPERLEY LONDON, is as dreamy and as romantic as her heavenly pieces. Georgie Bradley talks to ALICE TEMPERLEY about escapism, what kind of boss she is and how she creates a work/life balance…
Alice Temperley’s head is full right now. Her thoughts are fitting between the anticipation of spring/summer 18 and the vortex of fashion weeks ahead; she’s trying to make time for notes, sketching and fittings while consciously balancing home life too. It seems designers are either in the future or in the past – we were set to speak about autumn/winter 17 and although timely, the crest of that wave has been and gone as far as fashion chronology is concerned. Fashion moves fast, it’s never still. Alice wishes it was slower – but she’s taking time for some “peace and quiet” by shunning London’s notorious Notting Hill carnival and going away to Ibiza.
A typical week for Alice will see her in the studio three times, creating the narratives of her pieces (20 stories or so), working on the silhouettes, sketching, doing fittings once a week “where the creativity comes alive in 3D” and then the rest of the week involves working alongside the sales team and taking care of logistics. It’s full-on and she’s hands-on but she’s got “a brilliant team,” says Alice, who have a varied and strong skill set. What kind of boss is she? “I’m a nice boss. I like to hang out with the people I work with and have a good laugh. I really strive for a work/life balance – at the beginning I worked around the clock learning everything from scratch. It’s never just about being able to design a collection, it’s about barcodes, shipping and sales. But I don’t do laziness or attitude. is industry is hard work, there’s no place for that,” she adds.
For the past 15 years, Temperley London has thrived in the fashion industry, weathered the financial storm and remains one of the most celebrated British labels around the world. e characteristic folklore fantasy of the brand has caught the imaginations of dreamy romantics and has made women feel their whimsical best wearing beautifully embroidered pieces that have oodles of elegant movement. is season, the escapism motif so true to the Temperely London story was carried throughout, but there were some cleaner, more structured pieces that came to the fore too. “We’ve always done really strong tailoring, the quilted skirts and coats with the high-waisted trousers from this season is showing that we’re not just about pretty dresses. We’re really pushing the day-wear category forward because as it stands 60% of the brand is every- day pieces, whereas if you looked at the business just four years ago, it was predominantly evening wear, so there’s been a big shift,” explains Alice. What we see on the runway are the showpieces – ones that bedazzle the critics but beyond the catwalk are the more tonal but still detailed numbers. e trousers for example; they aren’t run of the mill, they’re identifiably Temperley trousers with that bohemian ruffle and flow, giving it a folklore stamp.
“I wear my own creations 95% of the time but I wish I had more occasions to wear all the beautiful pieces I have in my wardrobe!” she says. Ibiza is the opportune destination to catch up on all out ts lost to time. If you were to catch Alice on a regular day though, you’d probably nd her in her self-proclaimed uniform. “If I’m being functional, I wear high-waisted trousers and a white shirt.” She understands why most designers wear head-to-toe black when working on their collections because it skirts any clash between seasons and serves as a blank canvas to think clearly about design.
Our region loves to peacock, so to speak. e emphasis is on showing and being larger-than-life, stereotypically at least. For a distinctly British brand, why has this market been so receptive to Temperley London? “I think they can see it’s additional work that has gone into each piece. Everything is hand-done and has a place – there is something that makes it more unique. Our Italian jacquards are doing particularly well in the region and it’s really re ned fabric with beautiful print, with a feminine shape. The fabrics are becoming even more luxurious – you see it on a table and you just want to touch it. It’s tastefully elegant where a woman looks the best she is,” says Alice.
Fundamentally, Temperley London is country- side romantic with splashes of sequins and jazz. Alice’s affinity with the country-side stems from childhood and is a present place of refuge too. When I ask her if she internalises that romantic aesthetic, she instantly nods in agreement. She lives out the stories behind each piece she creates as it “takes away any monotony”. ere is something other-worldly about Alice. She carries herself with a feathery lightness, her tresses cascade with a pre-Raphaelite quality and she has a soothing disposition. Even if she didn’t live out that narrative, she certainly looks like she does.