LOS ANGELES — Designer Alice Temperley hopes that, when she opens her first West Coast boutique here on Friday, savvy Angelenos will be ready to embrace what she calls “a very English label.”
Temperley already has glittering clientele for her feminine, highly embellished frocks, including Claudia Schiffer, Kate Winslet, Keira Knightley, Sarah Jessica Parker and Charlize Theron, and a business that has increased in four years to about $8 million in sales from $250,000. The company is projecting sales of $16 million for the fiscal year that started last month.
The 1,100-square-foot outpost on Melrose Place is nestled on the tree-lined, two-block enclave that was once inhabited mainly by antique stores. The Sally Hershberger at John Frieda salon, which opened in 2001, was one of the first nonfurnishing stores to arrive. In just the last year, the street has filled up with fashion heavies Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg, in addition to Marni and Tracy Feith.
“We have an amazing client and stylist support [in Los Angeles],” Temperley said in an interview. “It’s someone who realizes it’s not just about big bling-bling labels. It’s very important to be given the all-clear as an English brand and product, and showing at New York Fashion Week [for the first time] this year was a fantastic opening to the American market. Buyers have been very supportive.”
The line, which was launched at London Fashion Week in September 2000, was previously available only at select stores here, such as Neiman Marcus, and through trunk shows that Temperley held at the Chateau Marmont hotel.
Los Angeles-based stylist Rachel Zoe was one of Temperley’s early fans.
“I’m a huge fan of British fashion and always try to be extremely supportive, because I think it’s underrated,” Zoe said. “Also, I think she has such great style, and usually when I like a designer’s style, I like their clothing.”
While the 30-year-old designer is frequently photographed along with her clothes, it is clearly her one-of-a-kind designs that have garnered the most attention.
Each piece of Temperley’s clothing — designed in her Notting Hill studio in London — has a personal, made-for-you feel. She crisscrosses the globe, shopping markets and exploring.
Although known for her ornate dresses, the designer’s eye for detail comes through on everything from her lambswool sweaters with honeycomb weave on the sleeve and neck to her French lace tunics with beading and matador-style beaded trousers. Retail prices range from $425 for sweaters to as much as $8,000 for ready-to-wear evening dresses.
“You’ll be seeing a Temperley buy, not a buyers buy at this store,” Temperley said. “Sometimes I’ll design a piece that buyers don’t pick up on but customers really like.”
The Los Angeles store also offers a larger selection of red-carpet dresses, such as the taupe-colored La Noche dress with crystal beading and a T-bar back. One-off dresses and bespoke bridal also will be offered, and the Temperley ready-to-wear bridal collection will launch at the beginning of next year.
“I’m not designing for stick insects,” Temperley said. “When we design for the collection, we do one for each body type, so no matter what shape you are, you should be able to buy into that [design].”
The store is equally as reflective of the eclectic, romantic clothing. “The one in New York is on the second floor and you have to ring the buzzer, and still feels like a secret to be found.” There is also a stand-alone store in London.
The ivy-covered space here reflects Temperley’s travels. All the furniture are antiques sourced from London, Paris and New York with accents from India. A cream-colored settee and parlor chairs coexist with cowhide rugs, ornate mirrored throw blankets and a fuchsia parasol. French doors open to a garden patio filled with bougainvillea, lavender and rosemary.
A limited edition of home furnishings, such as pillows and throws, also will launch at the Los Angeles store — if they make it out of customs in time, said Temperley’s husband and business partner, Lars von Bennigsen, who arrived early to handle the details of the opening. Her sister, Mary, oversees sales.
The accessories collection from former Paul Smith designer Emma Ganderton will make its debut in February, with the remaining pieces to come out next September. Luggage, handbags, diaries and other travel accessories will be included. Temperley has a collection of luggage and travel pieces designed with British luxury brand Penhaligon.
“People want to look more mysterious and ethereal,” Temperley said. “Whether it’s through them or their stylist, we want to give them that.”