Alice Temperley wends together dreams and reality in this season’s ode to the glorious west. Reality, because the wild reaches of England’s South West was where she designed this collection - the first to be designed in its entirety in the brand’s new Somerset home. Dreams, because the cowgirl at the centre of Autumn’s fantasy rides a quixotic line between all-night parties and days mucking out the stables; twixt country fields and city subways, masculine suiting and feminine fills. This cowgirl comes alive in the gloaming; somewhere in-between.
In a spontaneous reshuffling of Temperley signatures, Alice Temperley approaches a line-up of archetypes - the prairie dress, the tailcoat, the tuxedo suit, the leather biker – and bucks them. The hard leather biker has all the trappings of a James Dean portrait with its high collar and straight-up hardware, but the back has been worked to artisanal extremes using an intricate corded leather appliqué technique that has an almost kaleidoscopic effect. The prairie dress is a prototype which in Alice’s hands gains a fizzling sex appeal thanks to volumes of sheer seersucker plaid and ruffles for days. But this double-edged cowgirl tempers sex with wit, and so feminine dresses are layered with denim jackets patched with cartoonish motifs – a disco cactus and some jazzy desert worms titillate on denim and laugh even more giddily when replicated across tulle and silk evening dresses.
Sharp tailoring is a linchpin of the collection: cut to the bone from luxurious wool crepes and weighty sateens, pieces such as tailcoats, three-piece suits and abbreviated evening jackets have been sewn and re-hewn for exaggerated drama. Alice’s love for the louche characters of the 1970’s underworld results in extroverted peaked lapels and double-breasted shapes, playing out most dramatically in a white cotton sateen trench coat and a wasp-waisted tuxedo jacket. Temperley’s mission to source local where possible has resulted in the most striking of suits: a single-breasted two-piece with elongating stripes and curved lapels made in locally in Somerset, bringing fresh invigoration to the made-in-England mark.
The hard line between disco nights and weather-beaten days is softened with a continuous thread of dazzling workmanship that brings the two sides closer. Wildly coloured ponchos and blanket knits straight from the Argentinian pampas showcase the same fastidious attention to detail as rhinestone-studded showgirl dresses and cascading sequin evening gowns. Day versus night. Town versus country. Jodhpurs and fair isle knits versus Italian lamé ruffles and triple-leather layers.
Always choosing the double life. That’s where the fun lies.