Alice Temperley

The English rose dispels her dress-up 101. By Christene Barberich
alicetemperley_opener.jpgCool British girls make it look so easy. Pearl Lowe and her daughter Daisy, Kate Moss, Bay Garnett, they've all got it—that extra-special style something. More fearless than French girls, less uptight than Americans, this quirky-confident English élan is unmistakable, and designer Alice Temperley has it, too.
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Beginning with her namesake brand, which launched in 2000, Temperley has injected her own magical sense of playful femininity into a thriving womenswear line, a new collection of handbags, and a seasonal run with Target that debuted last fall. Temperley is most known for her sweeping party gowns, but her latest collection for fall/winter '08 proved she's just as skilled with crisp tailored jackets and vampy leather pants. Here, the British belle distills her own style theories, from Klimt to the catwalk.
We always start with the hot list. Choose the five things that sum up your style, as in your everyday mainstays…
1. Bright red lipstick. "Passion by La Bella Donna."
2. Little, fitted black jackets. "I have about 50 of them, including a funky very-waisted Westwood 1940s-style and another brocade and lace Victorian one. Also, boys Victorian clothes are good in general for small waists."
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From left: Alice in her signature red lipstick, two little black Temperley London jackets from the fall/winter '07 and '08 collections

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From left: Kenneth Jay Lane cocktail ring, Temperley London evening dress from the fall/winter '08 collection, Christian Louboutin heels
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3. Large cocktail rings. "As the years go on they get bigger and pricier!"
4. Long dancing evening dresses. "I have a knitted Alaia with gold metal stones, and Ossie Clark crepe dresses are also winners. But in general, my favorites are ones with enough fabric to fling around the dance floor, especially the ones I've designed myself."
5. Heels. "Although I always wear flats during the day, heels are a big fetish of mine, especially Christian Louboutin, Alaia, Pierre Hardy, and YSL."
Who would you say your greatest style mentors are? Not just designers, but anyone with an interesting perspective…
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From left: A portrait of the timeless Coco Chanel, a detail from Gustav Klimt's 1907 painting Adele Bloch-Bauer I, a portrait of Paul Poiret from 1913
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Coco Chanel. "She had amazing timeless style for her era, and it's still more than relevant now."
Gustav Klimt. "Always an inspiration."
Designers Madame Jeanne Paquin and Paul Poiret. "For the way they combined things, and the fact that their work was for them and about their lifestyles, not just about fashion."

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Three looks from the Temperley London fall/winter '08 collection
Tell us about one thing from your own line that you're currently obsessing…
"This shade of beetle green! It's an emerald color shot with gold."
Would you say you're the muse for your own line? If not, who do you design for?
"For our latest collection, the muse is Mata Hari, the most notorious spy of the 20th century. Otherwise, my muse could be Charlotte Gainsbourg or Charlotte Rampling when she was younger."
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How does your own aesthetic permeate your collections?
"Season to season, the collections are timeless, and [I maintain] a huge focus on attention to detail."
In 20 years, which parts of your approach to fashion will still be relevant?
"An appreciation of things that are flattering and well-made. As a designer though, my aim has always been and always will be to create clothes that feel good to wear and aren't trying to make a particular statement; they're enjoyable, they look great, and make for great longevity in a woman's wardrobe. They're timeless…and quite a lot like my own style!"
Black and white portrait courtesy of Alice Temperley, color portrait via nymag.com, Temperley London runway images via style.com, cocktail ring image via net-a-porter.com, Coco Chanel image via thephenomenal.com, Gustav Klimt image via artknowledgenews.com, Paul Poiret image via wikipedia.org
The English rose dispels her dress-up 101.
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