Guest post by Steffanie Parkes
Designer William Tempest talks about dressing celebrities for the red carpet and reveals how he stays grounded despite running a luxury label.
Splitting his week between Dubai and London, William Tempest is living the true jet-setter life-style that comes with being one of Britain’s most celebrated young designers. Famed for his offerings at New York and London Fashion week, dressing celebrities and most recently teaming up with Disney to create a red carpet inspired dress, for the European Premiere of Oz the Great and the Powerful. William maintains that despite all of his success, he still takes most joy from making people look and feel good.
After studying at the London College of Fashion and working with the likes of Giles Deacon and Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, William moved to London to launch his own fashion label. Taking inspiration from luxury evening wear and modernism, he creates custom made couture dresses that balance seductive glamour with eye-catching statement designs.
“I found my aesthetic, which is quite decadent, timeless and elegant,” says William. “The way I work is that I design individual dresses for private clients, I do a series of sketches for them and they choose the ones they like. Doing this has been really good for me to learn what suits different figures. I have to compromise a lot on what I want as a designer and what clients want.”
When creating clothes for clients, designers must strike a balance between what will make their client happy and what makes that design synonymous with their brand. William explains, “It’s made me really think about compromise and how am I going to make something that they really like and I like as well. From ready to wear, to working with private clients, and then going into high-street design it’s allowed me to get a good understanding of all different areas of the market. I’m always hoping that what I am doing will help to inform my next project.”
Through meeting Donnatella Versace at Fashion Fringe, William realised how much of an emphasis there is on celebrity fashion and that he wanted to incorporate all of the glamour and the exposure that comes with celebrity into his label. He says, “It really rubbed off on me that today we live in a age where it’s all about celebrity, and you only have to pick up a magazine to know that everyone looks up to these celebrities, and often it’s not really for any reason. Although it is good for sales, if a celebrity wears my dress then I am going to sell a lot of them, that’s just how it works.”
“I started to dress people like Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss, Emma Watson, Alexa Chung, and Nicole Scherzinger. It’s really good fun working with them, but most designers do that for the exposure. Although one celebrity I’d really like to dress Angelina Jolie. She seems mysterious, I don’t quite ‘get’ her and I think she always wears dresses that are quite a lot like mine anyway. So, I think that would be quite a good partnership.”
Using celebrities to market designs is a common way that designers elicit interest in their collections and can be the most effective way of creating press attention. William says, “ The usual trade off is that if I make this dress for them, they get to keep it, but I get the exposure. So it works both ways.”
In light of all of his achievements William still gets most satisfaction from knowing that he has done his job properly. He says, “The most rewarding part of my job is probably when I get emails from people who have worn my dresses and they tell me that they wore my dress to their daughters wedding or to a birthday party and it was special and it made me feel great. That tells me that I’ve done my job well.”
“I wouldn’t say that it is dressing any celebrity or winning any award because at the end of the day that’s all PR. It’s not real, it’s all smoke and mirrors. Never believe any of that stuff.” Continuing his passion for creating clothes that will make people feel good, William hopes to expand his brand to incorporate menswear in the coming years.