The British born designer, who is based in both London and Dubai, is all handsome boyish looks with a softly spoken charm. Thanks to a slew of successful collections, and a sell-out collaboration with River Island, the talented Mr Tempest is definitely one to watch.

We talk to the dashing young designer about his stint at London College of Fashion, launching his own label and how to make it in the fashion business.

What made LCF your first choice to study? 

It’s a great college to learn both design and technical skills. I’ve always cut a large amount of my own patterns and shapes and my design process incorporates a lot of experimentation on the stand – so studying at LCF seemed like a great choice for me.

What was the most valuable lesson you took from your time at LCF?

I think the most valuable lesson I learnt is to be organised and to stay calm and focused. The fashion industry and studying fashion can sometimes be stressful with lots of things needing to come together all at the same time, whether it be fabric deliveries, communicating to technicians, or organising photo shoots. You have to focus and rise above any stress.

What did you find most challenging while studying?

I think the communication of ideas can be challenging when studying design. Good designers are able to easily communicate their ideas and concepts to others. This is key, as making fashion often involves lots of different people who might not be in the same country. 

Being able to produce clear sketches and technical drawings can really help here, as well as having a good understanding of pattern making and garment construction. 

You worked for Giles Deacon alongside studying, how was that?

My tutors encouraged me to start working for Giles and I worked there for two years. It was amazing and fun but mostly importantly, it was a great learning experience. It gave me the opportunity to put all the skills I was learning at college to practice in a real life environment.

How important are internships now? Would you hire someone with no work experience?

I wouldn’t hire a designer who hasn’t done any work experience. I think internships are crucial to developing your skills and understanding the fashion industry. If you are passionate about design I think an internship is something that you would want to have accomplished.

williamBehind-the-scenes of William’s show cat Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week

 Did you find graduating daunting or were you eager to get stuck into the industry?

Having the platform of showing at Graduate Fashion Week was a huge support for me starting out in the industry, as exposure is a big part of what you need as a designer whether you want to have your own fashion label or to work for another brand.

My collection was well received in the press, and people were contacting me interested in offering me my first design job and even backing me to start the William Tempest label. 

Graduating is an exciting time, but also a critical one to get your work noticed.

Over 6,000 students attend LCF each year, not all will make it in the industry. What is your advice to graduates looking to start their own label?

It is hugely competitive. To be successful as a designer in your own right you really have to be confident with your aesthetic and be dedicated to that, you need to be hardworking and prepared to work every day and also to find and have the right support and backing behind you. 

In the last few years I’ve been on a huge learning curve and I’ve never stopped learning. 

What are your top tips for making it (and surviving) in the industry?

Find a work placement when you’re studying, it will give you an advantage when you graduate. 

Be clear about your aesthetic and question if it is desirable, employable. 

Be realistic with what is achievable for you. 

Be flexible and open minded with opportunities that come your way as you often have to start somewhere to get somewhere else. 

What’s next, do you have any new projects on the horizon?

I love to collaborate with others, I’m currently working with W Hotels and also on a new collection for the British high street. 

I also regularly work outside the field of fashion from curating design exhibitions, to designing items such as cosmetics and advertising.

william2A selection of William’s sketches which were designed especially for his private clients in Dubai

For a chance at winning a short course at London College of Fashion, see here


Image: Christopher Dadey