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September 1 2014

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True Temperley

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Alice Temperley made her debut at London fashion week in September 2000 and climbed the ranks as a designer, making her mark with flirty sundresses. This September, the Brit designer’s collection showed that the Temperley London woman has certainly gotten more dressed-up over the years. Maybe that can be attributed to two of her most notable clients, Kate and Pippa Middleton (the latter of whom was at the runway show), who have no shortage of royal functions for such attire. But maybe it’s the seven months she spent going through her archives of fabrics, designs, and more than 300,000 images for her new book celebrating the past decade, True British: Alice Temperley, out tomorrow. “After ten years, you really understand what your customer wants,” the designer tells Style.com as she arrives in Paris. “Doing this book has really enabled me to see where I started, how things evolved, and where I need to be going.” Here, Temperley reflects on the progression of her label over the years and dishes on her burgeoning friendship with the Middleton sisters.

Your book is called True British. What is truly British, in your opinion?
We have managed to create a brand that is truly British. I love our heritage and I love to look to the past for references. I think we have managed to capture that history and what it means to be truly British in our brand. I am not afraid to be English in mixing and matching things. I love our flag!

How has London fashion evolved over the years as you have seen it and been a part of it?
British fashion has definitely evolved. It doesn’t have the backing that Paris, New York, and Milan have, but London now has a lot more focus on supporting Brit designers and teaching them how to evolve in the world markets.

What characterizes British fashion today, in your opinion?
We have a voice of being more eclectic and pattern-focused and more playful. English people are not afraid of making their own voices heard.

Both Kate and Pippa Middleton have worn your clothes, and Pippa was at your runway show. What is your relationship with them?
I have a good relationship with them. They are brilliant girls—good Brit stock. It’s refreshing, because there’s this whole world of celebrities, but they are so well mannered and polite. They are true British girls, and they are very good ambassadors for British fashion and what we represent.

What prompted you to want to do a book?
If you work insanely hard for ten years, it is nice to pull year by year in photos and put it in one document. It was nice to see the full cycle of everything. I admit I was very naive when I started, and I can see that now. We have learned the hard way. The whole book is very personal and very true. You can see what is at our core.

And what is that?
True femininity, timeless pieces, eclectic, not being ashamed in decoration and detail, beautiful finish, pattern, and very soft. After ten years you really understand what your customer wants. With the main line, we are doing much more evening and grown-up pieces, and the diffusion collection is more the everyday girl.

What did you learn from doing this book?
When you start out, you are very passionate about something and then over the years, you try to do it all and then you are put onto a platform. You realize very early on what the seed was and the passion that started everything. It seemed like a natural thing.

What advice would you offer a young designer these days?
Stay true to yourself. If you have something you are really passionate about, it might take time to be recognized or noticed, but if you really enjoy it, it will all show in your work. Don’t listen to other people, and really listen to yourself.

What’s on the horizon for you right now?
We are opening stores in New York, growing our bridal line, relaunching our Web site, and just finishing a collaboration I can’t talk about quite yet.

Photos: True British: Alice Temperley (Rizzoli NY)

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