William Tempest and River Island – Interview

I’ve styled for for several years and he’s always working on a variety of projects. A few seasons ago he did a range of dresses for John Lewis as part of their focus on emerging and established fashion talent including Yosman Yousefzada, milliner Philip Treacy and footwear designer Terry de Havilland. This is William’s second high street collaboration. It’s a 13-piece collection that’s part of the in conjunction with the River Island Design Forum and it goes on sale in October.

What have you been up to in Dubai?
WT– I’ve been splitting my time between London and Dubai over the last year. I’ve been working mostly with private clients. It’s been great in allowing me to gain an understanding of all areas of the fashion market, firstly from ready-to-wear, private client work, and now also for the high-street having recently designed my first collection for River Island, launching in the UK and Middle East this October.

You were in Eqypt last year, how did this inspire the collection?
WT-
It was amazing to visit Luxor and the Valley of the Kings. I’ve always been fascinated by Egyptology and the Egyptomania of the 1920’s, so it seemed liked a natural place to start designing from. At the temple of Karnak I photographed a giant granite scarab beetle, to the Ancient Eqpytian’s the scarab beetle represented new life and resurrection. It inspired me to use the scarab motif throughout the collection, and it’s featured on everything from the metal zip pullers to the tessellated fabric designs which were also inspired by graphic artist M. C. Escher.

What is your favourite piece from your River Island collection?
WT- I really love the Grandma Coat, it’s made in faux sheepskin and faux fur with contrast black knitted sleeves; and also the Flapper Dress, it’s dropped waist and is embellished with an art deco pattern in matt sequins and long beaded fringing at the hem. There are also lots of accessories in the range, I love the Beetle Boots they are made in a tessellated beetle laser cut fabric; and also the Scarab Clutch, a metal sphere shaped bag with a giant scarab beetle clasp and mini scarab beetles chain.

You seem to really enjoy travelling, does this inspire your collection?
WT-
I love travelling and I’m writing this in Thailand. I’m here to visit an elephant sanctuary where I’ll be helping look after the elephants and exploring some of the Thai jungle. Travel is a great way to inspire creativity, whilst in Bangkok I’ll take a look around the markets and be on the look out for interesting textiles and crafts, and I’ll have my Diana Mini camera handy in case anything takes my fancy. I like taking a break from everything I know once in a while.

This image is from William Tempest’s Instagram

Is it true you make a cameo appearance in the fashion film to promote your River Island range?
WT-
Yes we made a film with the director Ryan Hope and I have a cameo in it at the end. You really only see me from behind, but I do think I look quite dashing in my dress shirt and braces. Ryan is an amazing director and came up with some really quirky and creative ideas for the film. It’s great to hand your work over to someone to see how they interpret it. The collection was loosely inspired by F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’, and my character in the film is in many ways similar to the great Jay Gatsby himself.

Whats next for you, any more collaborations?
WT-
There’s always something next in the pipeline. I’m working on a new project at the moment, and I’ll hopefully also be collaborating with a luxury hotel brand soon as well.

The film will premiere at London Fashion Week on Friday September 14th and the River Island collection will be available in stores soon after.

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