It was a circus at Temperley London's MAC & Milk presentation. Designer Alice Temperley skipped a runway show for the second season in a row in favor of a static installation; this time it featured a film projected from an old-fashioned zoetrope. On the video, real-life contortionists, trapeze artists, ballet dancers, and knife throwers modeled the clothes that were displayed on the mannequins. The big-top inspiration was at times quite literal: A black-and-white harlequin print decorated a roomy jumpsuit, black knit tank dresses came embroidered with buttons à la Cockney pearly queens, and horses marched across a leather belt that cinched a red intarsia sweater dress.

If all that sounds riskier than tightrope walking, Temperley has never been one to shy away from embellishments. The ringmaster top hats did add an element of costumery to the proceedings, but there were enough other pieces to ground the collection in real life. The still-going-strong body-con look was covered with a cropped black jacket and matching narrow skirt detailed with tiny black studs, and cocktail dresses with contrast-piped seams and corset lacing. And picking up on Spring's new tribal trend, Temperley showed a long net dress stitched with scrollwork to evoke tattoos. Lastly, heeding the call for lower-priced items, she's just launched a diffusion line: Alice by Temperley is doing a brisk business, she said, back in her showroom.