She’s dressed the A-listers for years and in the last eighteen months has scored the fashion goal many designers dream of; becoming known for being one of Kate and Pippa’s favourite labels. So why is everyone so mad about Alice? Grazia Daily finds out...
Temperley muses: Alice with Lara Bohinc, Jacquetta Wheeler, Jade Parfitt and Charlotte Olympia
Business is booming in Alice Temperley-land, but the Notting Hill designer is hardly breaking a sweat. With a projected 45% lift in sales for 2013 and fans in both of the Middleton sisters – (with Pippa Middleton famously choosing a green gown by Temperley for the Royal wedding party), the pace seems unlikely to slacken anytime soon. What’s more if Google’s Zeitgeist list is anything to go by –Temperley was said to be the fourth most searched for label in the UK in 2012, ahead of titans like Burberry and Versace – the brand’s epic popularity looks set to translate into hectic schedules for the foreseeable future.
How then does Temperley keep up? “I have to be unbelievably organised and I have an amazing team which has taken 10 years to get absolutely right. But to be honest I feel incredibly fortunate to be so busy, the recession has been so hard on so many fashion brands,” she says. And with two globally coveted collections (her mainline and the mid-market price point range, ALICE by Temperley), 300 stockists, six standalone stores (including a brand new Mayfair HQ), a 90 strong staff and her four year old son, Fox, in tow, Temperley certainly knows how to juggle. To add to her workload, she launched her second Somerset collection for John Lewis– the first of which was the fastest selling range in the department store’s history.
Temperley got her start in the fashion biz as a child selling textile experiments in her parent’s cider house in Somerset and she continued moonlighting during her studies in Textiles at Central Saint Martins, selling embroidered jackets on market stalls to support herself through college. After a brief stint consulting in Italy she returned to Notting Hill in 2003 to put together her first collection of 25 pieces with few expectations. After 15 stores immediately snapped up her debut designs, her name was on every fashion editor’s lips on both sides of the Atlantic.
Everyone loves Temperley: from J-Lo to P-Middy
So what is it that makes shoppers identify so deeply with this West London by West Country brand? “I like to think that people see Temperley as unpretentious and accessible. They see a woman designing for women. There is a realness, a tangibility to my pieces. To be honest I’m not looking to change the world, I just truly love beautifully made clothes and that idea of the perfect fantasy dress.” And what fantasy; Temperley’s intricate embroidery, beadwork and flowing cuts speak to an ethereal world of glamour and escapism. “Details and embroidery resonate with people and make connections with our customers. We have an extremely loyal customer base that has a true relationship with the designs,” explains Temperley. For sure, the skilled craftwork and hand-finishings common to much of Temperely’s work create a sense of investing in a little gem to be passed down to lucky generations ahead – a far cry from the much lamented throwaway fashion culture.
Over the past decade, Temperley has dressed the red carpet’s finest from Jennifer Lopez to Eva Mendes as well as the Middleton sisters. Of the Duchess and Pippa, Temperley describes, “Two really lovely girls who are both absolutely fantastic ambassadors for England. It was of course very flattering that they chose to wear my designs. I truly had no idea the green dress (that Pippa wore to the Royal Wedding reception party) would be so unbelievably focused upon across the world.”
As for her collection for John Lewis, Temperley says she enjoys bringing her product to a new customer. “It’s nice not to be so exclusive and give people who love the brand access to it. I’ve tried to keep the essence of the brand intact. Dresses might not be made from the most exquisite Italian Como silks, but the cut will be just so.” Offering a ‘core collection’ of relaxed throw-on summer staples rather than one-night-wear gowns, the second edition of the Somerset line includes immaculately cut wide leg trousers and lightweight summer knits. “I was looking to create the perfect trouser, the perfect summer dress – something which you can wear to death.” So a wardrobe of chic staples, which will work from year to year, all at an affordable price point? Alice Temperley is definitely a girl after our own heart.
See Alice's loyal fans wearing her creations in the gallery below...