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Monday Muse: Catherine the Great Inspires Temperley London Pre-Fall

Catherine the Great

Seven years ago, designer Alice Temperley showed her collection in Catherine the Great’s palace in St. Petersberg. Seven years is a long time (especially in the fast-paced world of fashion), but it took that long for Temperley’s ideas to fully coalesce into a full-blown collection.

Her showing for Pre-Fall 2014 took inspiration from the the Empress herself and the palace that she called home, and unlike other designer’s jaunts to Mother Russia, this was no fantasia of Faberg© or romantic expatriate Romanoff collection. Instead, Temperley decided to do what she does best: show super-feminine frocks and after-dark gowns that are worthy of royalty. Surely the Duchess Kate will find many new things to add to her collection and for the rest of us, it’s a chance to suspend reality for just a night and have a princess moment of your own.

One of Catherine’s dresses

Catherine the Great ruled during what would be Russia’s Golden Age. Under her watch, the country became one of Europe’s greatest superpowers, excelling in everything from art and architecture and becoming a more modern country thanks to Catherine’s establishment of new towns and cities — and establishing the elaborate, gilt Russian look that we know today — as well as higher learning establishments for women, bringing the ideas of French philosophers to Russia, amassing a huge collection of art and more.

Catherine was also known for her love of elaborate gowns. During an exhibition of her wardrobe, visitors saw just how much she loved rich brocades, ermine trims and how she mirrored Russian embellishment and architectural details into the trims and finishes of her gowns.

While opulence is a trademark of royalty no matter what country you’re referencing, the Russian nobles — including Catherine — were known for using complicated iron works, stained glass and more in the construction of their palaces.

Temperley London Pre-Fall 2014

Temperley London Pre-Fall 2014

It was those details that Alice Temperley used as a starting point for her Pre-Fall collection. In those seven years since she showed in Catherine’s palace, she honed her girly, bohemian trademarks and tempered her ultra-feminine signatures. Her latest collection included plenty of evening wear — the brand’s bread and butter and what her loyal clientele, Kate Middleton included, love her for — but she had plenty of day wear on show as well.

The stained glass of the palace showed up in rich brocade coats and separates and the intricate ironwork that marks Russian architecture was interpreted as delicate lace tiers or embellishment on illusion lace. It might be due to the designer’s new fabric suppliers, the new CEO in charge of her brand or the team of Italian artisans that she now has at her disposal, but there was definitely a new look for the usually predictable label. Alice wasn’t in Wonderland or in Bohemia this time around, instead, she was grounded in reality more than royalty. You could see it in the sleek, simple lines of bias-cut dresses and column gowns that will no doubt find their way onto red carpets when savvy stylists snatch them up. The opulence of evening wasn’t all gone, either, thanks to detailed embroidery and maribou trim, there was plenty for the maximalists out there, too.


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