Alice Temperley Talks ‘True British,’ the Royal Wedding, and SJP


alice temperley
Photo courtesy of Temperley
Designer Alice Temperley

She's been recognized by the Queen and has dressed those Middleton sisters—how much more English could a person get?

Alice Temperley celebrates her fashion label's 10th anniversary this year, and has commemorated the decade with a gorgeous Rizzoli tome called—what else?—True British, being released on October 4.

The book goes back to the beginning, covering Temperley's business and personal history. The pages are packed with both personal snapshots and formal portraits of the likes of Lily Cole, Helena Christensen, Rachel Zoe, and Temperley's son, Fox, as well as inspiration boards, tears from glossy magazines, and images from all her collections.

FashionEtc caught up with the designer to chat about her early years, her proudest moments, and why her heritage is so important to her.

The book is called True British. What is the most British thing about you? 

Probably my inherited eccentricity and the British countryside that is in my blood. I often get called little miss English—especially by my American friends.

How do you think your heritage comes across in your collections?

An eclectic way of mixing pattern and details. Meticulous craftsmanship in timeless pieces with historical references. There is a decadence which I think the English are good at in a subtle and not brash way.

What was the hardest part about putting this book together?

We have over three hundred thousand images on our servers and I started working on archiving these for the book more than two years ago. We also went through all the Polaroids from when the company was set up, which was before digital cameras. It was a mammoth task but also fun and brought back lots of memories.

Do you have a favorite image from True British?

I love the personal images from my private albums that are being shown for the first time in this book and of course mood boards and the insight into my archive.

alice temperley book true brit

Photo courtesy of Rizzoli

Alice Temperley's 'True British' book cover

Did working on the book spark any great memories from the early days?

Plenty. The first ever show we had—the drama in the beginning when we didn’t quite know how things worked. There are plenty of fun observations and anecdotes in the book from friends and family and people in the industry.

In the forward, Lucy Yeomans [Harper's Bazaar U.K. editor] describes your work as all about escapism. Do you agree and why?

I feel it is a very true and personal account of me and how the company has grown. It is very hard to be objective on your own life, but if people find it escapist I am touched that my work can evoke such a response. I like to think that the collections are imaginative, romantic and provocative and offer a bit of escapism.

How do you escape?

I love the plains of Africa, I feel very at home there. I like wild, alive landscapes with only very few other humans around.

What are some of your proudest moments in your 10 years in business?

There have been so many. From opening our first ever shop under our flat in London’s Notting Hill, to being chosen by Anna Wintour to represent designers in their 20s in a large feature shot by Annie Leibovitz for American Vogue in 2004. And of course, being awarded my MBE by Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the 2011 New Year's Honors. I am also very proud over the fact that we have been able to stay independent. And it goes without saying—seeing my clothes being worn and loved by so many women over the years.

What's next for the label? New categories? Collaborations?

There are so many things I would love to do—a children’s range, homeware, perfume. I want to transform Temperley into an all-encompassing, World of Temperley lifestyle.

Who have been some of your favorite people to work with over the years?

I have been very lucky to have worked with so many brilliant people over the years. Shooting with Tim Walker in Somerset is very memorable—he is a genius. We have worked with some incredible women over the years such as Helena Christensen, Liberty Ross, Annie Lennox, Rachel Zoe and Beyoncé.

alice temperley book true brit

Photo courtesy of Rizzoli

A sneak peek inside Temperley's soon-to-be-released book, 'True British'

Do you remember the first time a celebrity wore one of your looks on the red carpet? Who was it? And when?

One of the most memorable celebrity moments was when Sarah Jessica Parker’s character Carrie Bradshaw wore a design from my first ever runway collection on Sex and The City.

Was that weird or exciting?

Both, I was so honored to have been chosen. To see my dress on TV, on that particular show, was very exciting.

This has been quite a year for you, being awarded the MBE and dressing royalty. How will you top it?

It is our tenth anniversary this year, so we have our book coming out, and we have several incredibly exciting projects planned for the next few years.

What was it like working on the royal wedding? Any great behind-the-scenes anecdotes?

I was flattered to be asked and I think Pippa looked wonderful in the dress.

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