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Milking It: Temperley London Owns This Circus Thing

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Temperley London is hardly the only designer rocking the vintage circus theme this season, but the installation that opened at Mac & Milk last night was a far cry from costumes on the Britney Spears tour. The collection mixes impressive tailoring details with dramatic draping, and it is serious eye-candy for construction junkies.

Several dresses and jackets have tattoo patterns embroidered on gauze, and one ivory dress has black satin strips topstitched across the bodice in a way that will make your boobs look like a high-fashion, vaguely tribal butterfly. We're down with that.

Temperley kept the color palette relatively neutral with blacks, ivories and a few pieces in coral and cornflower blue. The neutral palette lets Temperley go completely crazy with complicated details and dressmaker flourishes without ever going over the top. One series of black dresses is embellished with a fishtail pattern of mother-of-pearl buttons that echos an embroidery technique that impressed the hell out of us when we saw it on a ceremonial coat at the Museum of Natural History.

A proper-looking business suit drew attention to its complicated seaming with tiny gold studs. It also had ginormous pyramid-shaped studs that seem to say, "I am wearing a business suit, but I might punch you in the face if you cross me."

The most over-the-top elements of circus dressing are wisely confined to the accessories to create a series of heavy metal statement jewelry and shiny, complicated handbags.

Alice Temperley's collections sometimes make us worry she has psychic powers and is reading our minds for what we want to see. This time it was epic feats of dressmaking, dramatic shapes, and a big tray of cupcakes. As for celeb-spotting, we saw Katherine Heigl, but otherwise we were distracted by the clothes.
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