03/07/2015 11:42 BST | Updated 03/07/2015 11:59 BST

Alice Temperley On Using Her Fashion Expertise As A Tool To Support Women Survivors Of War

Alice Temperley is best known for her eponymous fashion brand, with its exquisite fabrics, delicate hand-finished designs and much-coveted bridal collections.

But now the designer is stepping out of the bright lights of fashion to use her experience as a successful businesswoman to support women as an ambassador for Women for Women, a charity that helps women survivors of war to not just survive but to thrive.

Since 1993, the charity have supported over 420,000 of the most socially-excluded women survivors of war across the world, often in the most dangerous places.

Where extremism and conflict take root, the livelihoods, freedoms, and security of individuals suffer – and it is women and children who bear the brunt. Yet when given the tools, resources and knowledge to access livelihoods and protect their rights, we know that women can literally transform their families, communities – and ultimately their nations.

Through the charity's 12-month programme, women learn about their rights, as well as key life skills (such as health, managing their finances, how to build social networks for business and emotional support). They also learn vocational and business skills to access livelihoods and break free from poverty.

We caught up with Alice to find out more about her new role and a bit more about the woman behind the brand.

alice temperley

Photo by Tomo Brejc

What does your work as an ambassador for Women for Women involve?

It is a great honour for me to be named as an Ambassador to this fantastic organisation. I am very inspired by the people behind it and the dedication and support they have put into teaching women how to survive in the toughest environments. I am happy to help and support in anyway, to make life changing differences to women around the world whose situation is often unimaginable to the western world.

As part of my ambassadorship, I am sponsoring a woman in Kosovo through WfWI’s transformative one-year training programme. My ‘sister’ will enrol in a class of 25 women later this month, and begin the regular training sessions designed to provide the tools she needs to break the cycle of poverty and isolation -- for good.

This will include vocational and business skills to earn an income, as well as a practical understanding of her health and rights so she can make informed decisions for herself and her family. I am also planning a trip to Kosovo next year to meet her, which will be such an eye-opening experience that I am very much looking forward to.


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What prompted you to get into fashion in the first place?

I was constantly getting in trouble for cutting up my mum’s favourite fabrics and shawls. I was always making and selling things from the age of 11.

I went to Central Saint Martins art school in London and then the royal college – I made clothes to sell but almost went into interiors and photograph, which are both areas I am beginning to work more in.

You're also known for your attention to detail - is this a big part of your personality and how does it influence other aspects of your life?

We pay great attention to design details at Temperley London. I am passionate about the artisan techniques and the process and skills behind them.

You work in a very glamorous industry - is the work itself actually glam? Tell us what an average working day is like for you.

It is hard work and a tough and demanding industry. I am an early riser and I find I am my best in the mornings. If I am not traveling, I try to take my son to school before heading to my studio in West London where I work on my collections with my fantastic team. Although the fashion industry is obviously glamorous, I have to say that I spend my days in meetings.

You have these gorgeous, glorious summer parties - how much planning goes into them?

A lot, but thankfully I have an amazing team to help me. Last year we shot an exclusive film “white magic” around the party for Net-a-Porter, which was so much fun. This year has an “Old Myths and New Legends” theme.

You said in an interview that sometimes, you like being alone. Does that help centre and re-balance you as a person?

I think we should all have time to ourselves as we live in such a fast paced world. I feel most centred and balanced when I am at my country house in Somerset… and in beautiful places where there are no people and Wi-Fi for holidays.

What do you like about being in Somerset versus London?

I love the peace, tranquillity and the escapism I get when I am there. I can be with my family and friends and completely switch off from my busy London life.

You grew up on a cider farm - how did that shape you as a person, and in terms of how you learnt about the world?

I was very lucky to grow up in such a rural, idyllic place and to have a carefree upbringing. My feet are firmly rooted on the ground and growing up on the cider farm we were very much involved and I have a very family and real approach to everything.

What do you need for yourself in order to feel at peace? What do you like to do on a day off?

I love to bathe in my disco bath at my house in Somerset – I spend hours in it. My bath is free standing on a Union Jack plinth, in the middle of the room so I can stare out of the window and listen to all the birds. On my days off, I like to spend time with my son and go on long walks with him in the country.

How has being a mum shaped how you look at the world?

It is amazing how much having a child changes you as a person. Nothing prepares you for motherhood - your child is your priority and everything else comes second… it is a constant juggling act.

Do you have any advice for women who are in business and are mums too?

Find the best support and try to live as close as possible to work ….it is not cheap or easy.

Never take your work back home and don’t use you phone or gadgets around them. It’s easier said than done.