September 16, 2012 London
For a time Temperley was such a label—but not anymore. Alice Temperley's output has been on a steady track to somewhere else for quite some time now, and with her Spring collection it really arrived. Perusing the credit list, it did no harm to see that Katie Shillingford was on styling duty this time—her main show relationship has been with designer Gareth Pugh, so this was something of a departure for her. But ultimately a new clarity and precision was to be found in the clothes themselves, and credit is due to Alice Temperley and her decision to move her collection forward over successive seasons. At the same time, her Spring offering, entitled Return to Elegance, should bring her core audience with her even as it finds a new one.
This was a vision of "a late-1950s couture model or a young Sophia Loren," as the designer put it, but there was also the idea of "modernizing the Temperley woman, making her uncomplicated and effortlessly beautiful." A certain Portofino chic was to be found in the collection, spinning around variations on the sundress and holiday casualwear—though this was casualwear in the fifties, so not very casual at all. And that was no bad thing: It's time for flip-flops to be banned from cities, and you cannot imagine the new Temperley woman ever deigning to wear them (especially when she has Charlotte Olympia's shoes on offer), whereas the old one, heinously, might have.
In a palette of scarlet, pale china blue, white, navy, and black, there was a graphic delineation and simplicity to the collection. Even when there was intense workmanship, such as the stylized powder blue floral appliqués on organza and tulle pieces, all of the garments had an ease to them. Ribbon skirts with thick horizontal satin bands alternated with organza felt perfectly feasible for day, and were in tune with this season's play on sheer and solid. Fresh white cotton with lace looks felt pure, simple, and lovely. Engineered digital prints displayed both precision and sheer prettiness…. In short, there was much to choose from: It was deft, and decidedly beyond the realm of desultory middle-class-ness.