Sunday 17 December 2017

Who the heck is Alice?

Bairbre Power

Bairbre Power

Alice Temperley features on the wishlist of thousands of women. Some were seduced by her bohemian, lacy, beaded gowns when her incredibly chic, 1920s-themed wedding was covered by British 'Vogue' in 2002. For 10 years, the Temperley label has been the go-to choice of celebs, while the rest of us have made do with sticking pictures in our wallets, filed mentally under 'when I'm thin and rich'.

The 35-year-old mother-of-one is on staycation at home in Somerset the day we chat. Her son, Fox, who will be two next month, has been awake since 7am, and the excitement of spending long days together in the garden rings through in the upbeat tones of a woman used to working 14 to 15-hour days in London.

"We have a place in the country, so I try to leave town on Thursday night or Friday morning so I can be with [Fox] and catch up on things," says Alice. "I work from the countryside on Mondays, and Tuesdays to Thursdays in London. It's all about time management really, and being with him is the most important thing," says Alice.

The designer displayed an entrepreneurial streak early on. She was 11 when she cut up her mother's lampshades to make accessories and later sold handmade earrings in her dad's cider barn.

"My time is on Mondays when I sketch. I can do 100 drawings in a day if I'm left alone and I don't answer my phone and I don't do emails. If anyone comes into my office, they are asked to leave; it's the only way I can do it," she laughs. "Last week, I shocked my cleaner by playing loud hip-hop music as I sketched, but normally I listen to classical or ska, folk and country."

The designer has three sketchbooks on the go at any time, drawing first in pencil then in calligraphy pen, and sometimes she will paint in a wash of colour; "when I have time", says Alice, who loves all things shiny -- hence her pet name, Magpie.

Alice met her husband, Lars von Bennigsen, when she worked as a cocktail waitress at The Met bar during her college years. They married four years later and the former financier is now her business partner. While she adores holidays in places such as Cuixmala in Mexico, an unspoiled paradise with amazing wildlife, private beaches and organic goods, the saxophone-playing designer holidayed at home this summer; her first break in 10 months after a busy year which saw her launch a new label. The year also threw up some interesting brand analysis which she is about to act on, Alice reveals.

"Our core customer wants femininity, and the recession has been good at making people realise who their customer is and what she wants to buy from you. The Temperley woman is very feminine and sensual, and, going forward, the look will be softer. The process is about staying true to who you are as a designer, rather than trying to please everybody, being really focused on what you are best for and what people actually want you for."

Irish Independent

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