Somerset Dreaming New!

The roar inside John Lewis' Oxford Street flagship at 8.30am this morning put in mind of the decibel level in the Olympic stadium. The occasion? The launch of Alice Temperley's first ever collaborative line, Somerset, in conjunction with a high street brand. We sought out a quiet corner with Mrs Temperley London herself to get the low down...

How did the partnership with John Lewis come about?
It was two years of talking. John Lewis asked us a while ago to collaborate on creating a line for them; something that could be quintessentially British, heritage, well-priced and, in essence, what we do, but they wanted it to be more versatile for a wider range of people. After figuring out that we were very happy with our Alice line, our mainline and our bridal line side of it and that it wouldn't conflict if we were to do a line for John Lewis, we were ready this year. It really is about working with their great suppliers and working with what the John Lewis customer wants from John Lewis, and bringing in an element of what we're known for - the lace, the animal, the military.

How did you go about building the collection?
Trying to work out who the woman was, what her age range was, what she comes to John Lewis to shop for already. She wants a little bit of a fashion element but not to be too scared, so that's where it was classic with a little bit of a twist. There's one very low backed, really gorgeous dress that somebody wanting that fashion element can go and get - or a leather pant, or big jacquard knitwear. You can really mix it up. It's about people who can't mix things up very well, who can buy a wonderful blouse, and then somebody who can combine these things like they are in the look book to make it look current. It's really about those cool separates that can make somebody's wardrobe work really well, like the blouse you can turn into an office-y look, or can be very romantic for the evening worn with something else.

How does it feel when you women out and about wearing your designs?
It's really flattering. Really flattering in obscure places, or obscure airports. You walk past and they have no idea. Or you're queuing next to somebody, and they have no idea. That's the most flattering, I think.

Was Somerset a natural name for the line? How does it fit in with what you've created here?
I wanted something that I like. That's where I'm from and I wanted lots of people in Somerset that could never be able to afford main line collections to be able to buy something from John Lewis that had an element of what we do. And Somerset is such a romantic name that I would never get bored of.

We're coming up to show season. Can you could give us any hints as to what to expect from you for spring/summer 2013?
Clean, sophisticated, polished. Quite minimal - which is very romantic.

...And with that, the designer headed outside to help serve tea to the crowds of shoppers who'd been queuing since 7.30am to see her. How very refreshing.

Somerset by Alice Temperley is available now, exclusively at John Lewis, with prices from ??29 for a scarf and ??99 for a day dress.