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Exclusive Interview With Designer Alice Temperley Celebrating 20 Years Of Fashion

"I want to continue with all my energy and creativity and build a true British full lifestyle brand. Temperley London lives and breathes a lifestyle. I want to make this a reality."

Temperley London is instantly recognizable for its contemporary boho flair when it comes to luxury women’s ready-to-wear dresses and garments. Quintessentially British, the iconic heritage label is often seen on the likes of royalty and celebrities on the red carpet and known for its meticulous hand worked embellishments and artisanal techniques which happen to resonate with Middle Eastern women who have a keen eye for fashion statements and luxe quality.

Embodying a timeless romanticism, Temperley London offers effortless, RTW and bridal wear in feminine silhouettes, statement prints and intricate embellished details and Alice Temperley is the woman behind the brand she established in 2000- just one year after she graduated from the Royal College of Art.

Now, two decades later, the British womenswear label has 3 standalone flagship stores spread across London and the Middle East – Mayfair, Dubai and Qatar, ensuring exclusivity, elegance and a retail experience like no other. About Her managed to catch up with the designer, creative director and woman behind Temperley London, Alice Temperley, to get an insight into where it all began, her presence in the Middle East, fashion in the fast moving world of social media and where she hopes to see her brand in the future…

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Where did Temperley London begin for you?

Temperley London launched in the year 2000, with Temperley Bridal not far behind in 2006. I studied for three years at Central St Martins and then two at the Royal College of Art where I focused on print. I made clothes out of fabrics I knitted and printed and sold them throughout my studies to pay my way. Then I did my first collection straight after college, it was small with around 25 pieces that I hand printed and embroidered, but I managed to secure about 20 wholesale accounts which was very exciting at the time. It was when I started producing and shipping the collection that I really started to learn about the business side. There were and are many logistics to consider in this fast-changing world. Setting up a business is not easy and being young, strong and driven - and possibly a little naïve also - worked to my advantage.

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How would you describe the Temperley London aesthetic?

Effortless, romantic and artisan

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What inspires your collections and how do you feel you carry your design signature through each one?

I am very passionate about patterns, textiles and fabrics as this is my training, so these are my starting points when I begin to design new collections. Film, travel books, my archive and life are all inspirations. Inspiration is everywhere.

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As fashion has evolved to being consumed mainly via social media and so rapidly, what challenges have you faced to maintain your brand aesthetic and relevance?

Social media and the rise of digital influencers has been one of the biggest changes to the fashion industry since I founded the brand in 2000. The consumer’s appetite for newness and content on platforms such as Instagram is ever growing, and it is important that our brand values and aesthetic remains consistent across all platforms. Staying true to one’s voice and storytelling in an authentic way is more important now than ever before.

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There is a lot of pressure now on the luxury fashion industry to keep up with consumer demands and trends – how do you feel this is impacting the luxury industry and what do you feel is the solution?

It is very hard work as the industry is fast paced and ever evolving…  with the media landscape changing, it’s important to stay current and keep evolving whilst staying true to the brand’s identity. I have always approached things in my own way and have never been interested in trends and fads. If you have your eyes open, you sync into a moment. I like timeless, historical references with newer shapes. Above all, I like things that will last the test of time and be wearable.

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Temperley London garments are stunning and rather statement, from color, to prints and embellishment – how does this fit in with the slow fashion movement?

I like the idea that our clothes can be passed down through generations and enjoyed for years to come. To me that is the most important thing; that our clothes are loved and looked after so they can last a lifetime, if not longer. Luxury is about quality, and quality lasts, pieces that are unique.

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How does Temperley London champion responsible fashion and sustainability, which are the current buzzwords in the industry?

Absolutely... we have one planet and we must make changes now before it’s too late. We all have a responsibility to do what we can to support. Reducing footprint, sustainable packaging, hangers and fabrics … Less is more approach … we have done a lot and are doing a lot more…. Vital for all companies to have this at their heart. Like slow food I wish I could make it all in Somerset to my house but that’s not a reality unless we got some serious government grants. 

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You have just opened your second boutique in the Middle East, what is it about your brand that is relevant to the Middle Eastern woman?

The Middle East is one of our most important markets. We have been planning it for the last year. I think they can see all the additional work that has gone into the individual pieces. The artisan techniques, as everything is done by hand; something that makes the pieces more unique. The lovey fabrics and the ease of the fit make it feel effortless.

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What sets your Middle Eastern clients aside from any other? What is it that keeps them coming back to Temperley London?

The Temperley woman dresses with confidence; she isn’t drawn to trends and isn’t afraid to mix the seasons. Her style is confident and elegant with a fun spirit. Her wardrobe from us can now be all encompassing, taking her from day to night.

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What can you tell us about your new book, English Myths & Legends?

I made this book to show the 5 pillars of the brand the shire, Holy Grail, Myths. Alchemy and the escape. It’s a celebration of aesthetic and conveys what those pillars stand for. Across them we show the effortless decadence and handcrafted allure of the brand. Highlighting the key moments that have inspired the last decade of work. Filled with captivating photographs from behind the scenes, Temperley London campaign shoots to artworks and some editorials.

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Whats next for Temperley London?

I want to continue with all my energy and creativity and build a true British full lifestyle brand. Temperley London lives and breathes a lifestyle. I want to make this a reality.

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