British designer Amanda Wakeley’s gravitational fashion pull reaches different corners of the globe, from the Middle East to Europe, thanks to her sophisticated and versatile threads. The designer talks Vogue Arabia through a one-on-one preview of the new Fall 2017 collection at London Fashion Week and discusses her new direction, which evokes strength and technical design complexity.
“This is not about girly clothes. These are strong, sophisticated clothes. Each one of these pieces is a statement,” says Wakeley. Notably, the brand’s evolution has moved towards a more modest approach but with its signature sensual sartorial DNA present in each piece.
“[The Amanda Wakeley] woman is quite covered this season. [The collection] is playful and feminine, but with an element of cool,” says Wakeley. As she holds up a nonchalant pair of silk joggers, the designer continues: “It’s sensual rather than being overt. There’s something very beautiful about covering, but then you see slithers, nuances of [skin].” Comprised of 20 looks––ranging from golden evening gowns that reference the ‘70s to fitted pencil skirts in jacquard, playfully styled with a judo tassel belt—the look is ladylike but of the moment. Pointing to a silk dress that offers a peek-a-boo of skin, the designer notes: “It’s a time to be a bit covered but in a sensual way. You are not going to feel old wearing [this], but it doesn’t stop you looking and feeling really sexy.”
“You can see elements of skin coming through,” notes Wakeley, as she points to the punched wool pants that offer dots of micro keyholes baring a glimmer of skin––a style that can be lined so that the wearer maintains 100% modesty. Amongst the wide-leg pants and satin midi dresses, any revealed flesh is nuanced. The modest movement has seen the likes of Valentino and Dolce & Gabbana lower its hemlines within the last few seasons.
“Middle Eastern customers have such a knowledge of craft and luxury––there’s not one thing that they don’t notice.”
The Middle Eastern customer is ever-present in the minds of top designers the world over, from shoe designers Malone Souliers to accessory brand Hill and Friends in London. “As a designer, it’s so rewarding that all of the detail is clocked and appreciated,” declares Wakeley of her Arab clientele.
Amanda Wakeley’s Winter 2017 collection references a fictional woman of French and Japanese descent who is “distinctly Parisian,” oscillating her wardrobe references between the two style heritages. “She is delving into both her roots as well as the indigenous Ainu tribe, who loved all sorts of crafting and beautiful weaving techniques,” Wakeley tells Vogue Arabia. There’s a “slightly oriental palette of the black, ecru, lipstick red, and then this Bonsai green. It’s great on blondes and black hair,” adds the British designer. Think punched wool pants, mohair jacquard wide leg pants, and geo print blouses primed for power lunches and dizzy social schedules.
“Mannish tailoring is a very important trend for me this season, but with a cinched-in waist to give it femininity with a fun judo fringed belt,” adds Wakeley, who starts the plans for a new collection based on the practical needs of a woman’s wardrobe for that season. Each offering is like a capsule for the Wakeley woman, but the designer prefers her clients to own each piece in her own inimitable way. Wear it your own way, as per the AW ethos.
“We have a lot of women who reach for Wakeley. I hate to use the word ‘empowerment’ because it’s overused… [you can] tap into strength, but in an understated way,” Wakeley says as she traces the silhouette of a sheer bell sleeve. “The right cashmere sweater should be empowering; it doesn’t have to be a jacket. If you feel good in your clothes, good in your skin, and if you are comfortable with your clothes, it all follows through. You can just get on with your job.”
For over ten years, Wakeley’s strength has been in outerwear and versatile jackets that effortlessly carry over from daytime board meetings to dinner events. For the woman who likes to remix textures within 24 hours, the satin, wool, leather, mink, and mohair fabrics and furs here lend themselves to off-duty denim, or can easily be revved up for evenings, too.
The style take-home for the winter Wakeley woman is clear: stay polished (but effortlessly so), wear everything with a slick of red lipstick, and dress yourself strong.
See Vogue Arabia’s coverage of the Fall 2017 shows here.