Alice Temperley MBE has become an iconic British designer who is known for her feminine silhouettes, stand out prints and sparkling garments.
Born in 1975, she was one of four children brought up on her parents’ idyllic Somerset farm. After graduating from London’s prestigious Central Saint Martins and the Royal College of Art, she launched the label in 2000 and made her runway debut in London’s Twentieth Century Theatre in 2003. The core business focuses on women’s ready-to-wear collections, which have evolved to offer a comprehensive range of daywear, cocktail and eveningwear. She also oversees a very successful Temperley Bridal line that was launched in 2006 with two collections a year. If you’re on a hunt for timeless shapes that are inspired by the romance and decadence of a bygone era, she’s your girl.
One of her biggest moments came in 2011 when she received Honorary Members of the Order of the British Empire accolade for services in the fashion industry presented by Queen Elizabeth II. The Duchess of Cambridge has been spotted in many of her creations along with Scarlett Johansson, Kiera Knightley and Demi Moore.
While in Middle East celebrating her freshly renovated store in the Dubai Mall, one of five in the world, and showcasing her Summer collection, we caught up with the designer to find out more about the latest line, her take on the fashion industry today and plans for the region.
How did you first become interested in fashion?
I was making and selling things from the age of 11, always making fabrics from bits and pieces. I realized that making clothes can make you feel in a different way, completely change your emotion and confidence. Growing up in the countryside I loved making stuff to transport fairytale feeling. Then started selling stuff at college to pay my way through college, and then I ended up with a business and I’m here thinking ‘what have I done’!
What has been the most significant breakthrough moment in your career?
Still waiting for it a little bit. Getting an MBE from the Queen was cool.
How has the industry changed since you first started?
There is a lot more products, designers, a lot more seasons, it’s very fast and now there’s a whole attitude towards being not for fast fashion and being eco-focused. There’s a change in the industry because it got too fast – too many shows, too many seasons, too many people flying all over the place and sort of confusion. So now all brands have gotten really focused on what their brand identity is and stay very true to that.
What part of the creative process do you enjoy the most?
Concept of coming together with an idea and the end. When you’re tying it all together and you’re doing the shows and shoots.
What challenges do you face?
Just the speed of it and not being able to take a month off if I feel like it. In fashion you just keep going.
Tell us about the summer collection?
I was in my office and I actually just wanted to be in Cannes and on a boat and then at Hotel du Cap. So you set the scene and then pull all the colours, tile details, garden details and the glittery details on the water at night, and then you create your stories out of that and put the collection together. It’s labor intensive as all the fabrics produced are designed in-house, as well as all of the embroidery and prints so it’s a lot of work, and I don’t think anybody has any idea how much work.
How do you want a woman to feel wearing your clothes?
Celebratory, like you’re in a fairytale. My hope is romantic, so I like it to feel like it’s transporting you somewhere that is not the normal, somewhere where it feels passionate and feminine.
What do you think of the fashion scene in the Middle East?
I love the fact people dress up breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Your summer collection is doing really well in the region, what do you think is so appealing?
The weight of it, the colour of it, the lightness and the ease of it. There’s a lot of chicness to our summer collection. You know it will stand the test of time.
If you could pick one piece in your collection for us to wear in the Dubai heat, what would it be?
The shirt dress, that you can open up and close. It’s super soft and doesn’t cling to the body.
What is your experience with the way social media and digital is shaping the industry?
Now you can shop on social media, it’s great. Also creating films and moving content, it’s about bringing the brand to life because this brand it’s here – but who is wearing it? Where is she wearing it? How is she wearing it? That content is so important to engage a customer and to sell a dress. You can’t rely on clothes hanging in store because it’s soulless, you have to create experiences and the easiest way to do this is through social media, moving images and film so we will be doing a lot more of that. People think Temperley do eveningwear but we do a lot of daywear too so you need to show people that, so it’s really important to put that across social media.
What’s your relationship with clothes?
I have so many clothes, it’s not funny, I literally have a problem with clothes because I don’t throw anything away. My thought is to try and get all my clothes in one place and then I can dress like a princess everyday.
Which designers do you admire?
I love Alaïa and obviously McQueen. I love the 40’s Dior jackets that I nipped in at the waist and I love Victoriana blouses – but I’m not a one brand person.
Name three things that get you up in the morning?
My son, sunshine and always having something to look forward to, like a plan. You always have to something to look forward to.
What’s the one item of clothing that is always in your wardrobe?
Anything that irritates you?
Elasticated waistbands, sound of people eating and brash trends.
Where are you traveling to this summer?
Going to Cannes, Ibiza, spending some time in Somerset and maybe a little bit of time in LA.
What do you pack in your suitcase?
A lot of the Summer collection.
What are your future plans for the region?
We want to support our customers here, give more beautiful dresses and do a few more events. We have a shop here and Qatar and looking to grow more in the Middle East.