It seems the notion of six degrees of separation is bringing me and Alice Temperley ever closer. Given her parents have a cider farm in Somerset and my father has recently provided a cider press illustration for a book on a Somerset family it surely means we must soon meet and chink a glass of cider ourselves.
There is much to admire about Alice Temperley, her designs and success but more importantly it is her recent collaboration with John Lewis and her Somerset range that will surely endear her to the masses. Before writing this post I popped into John Lewis to have a good look at the collection. It is true to the aesthetics of Temperley London designs and reflects an idyll of living in the country which works as well for an urban city dweller.
Somerset is a county that is often neglected being neither Cornwall or offering the Cotswold's as does Gloucestershire. Although of course Somerset does have Glastonbury! It is an area of the country synonymous with cider and apples. Somerset has no pretensions, it is an easy going sort of place and quietly gets along with its own business of farming and remaining essentially a collection of towns and villages. Unless you count Bath and Bristol there is no major conurbation still in the 21st century.
Hence the romance of the Somerset collection in John Lewis
Yet the fashion for Somerset is not merely restricted to actual fashion garments nor is it merely the romantic conception of Alice Temperley. Somerset is alive and breathing in an amazing family tale of village life and a snapshot of social history in the book The Wrong Side of the Track
It is the opposite of Temperley's Somerset with its almost stately reverence and is a reflection of the village life of the workers, often the hardships of ordinary folk mainly in the 1920s and 1930s. Yet the same romance and magic that Temperley plays upon is captured in this book due to the interweaving of narrative and memoirs, historical investigation and reflection and ultimately the complexities of the family. Trish Jennings pays tribute to her father Fred Jennings as the last male of the family line in this book. It is all there in words in the way the popular BBC series 'Who do you think you are' can only touch upon. One of the most enlightening and amazing facts of the book is that the village of Shapwick suffered no male losses during both World Wars. There is much more to this book than mere pleasant facts as everything about the family is laid bare.
At £12.75 on Amazon 'The Wrong Side of the Track' is a lot cheaper than the Somerset line in John Lewis, but they both go hand in hand. Both are a homage to a county that is held dear to many. The rich jewel of Temperley and her Somerset designs are supplemented by the richness of exploration of Somerset village life in the Jennings book.
Therefore, I suggest you buy a dress from Somerset by Alice Temperley to look the part for the festive season and you have 'The Wrong Side of the Track' ready for January to read and digest the detail of a bygone era .