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Amanda Wakeley OBE (born 15 September 1962) is a British fashion designer best known for her evening and cocktail dresses and accessories, and for her "clean glam" signature style, has also developed a presence in daywear, including day-dresses, tailoring and knitwear and a line of accessories and jewellery. Wakeley is an advocate for international organisation Women for Women.
FINE: We are honoured to have you here today. Thanks for giving us this opportunity to get to know you more. Could you please briefly introduce yourself using one sentence?
Amanda Wakeley: Amanda Wakeley OBE - Founder and Creative Director of Amanda Wakeley a womenswear brand founded on the premise of making women feel the best version of themselves.
FINE: Where did you grow up and how has the city moulded your perspective?
Amanda Wakeley: I grew up in the countryside in England, spent a few very formative years in New York before starting life in London - so you could say that I love the mix of city, country and global, all of these constantly inspire and inform my design decisions - we say that our woman lives in the city, is in love with the country and the world is her playground.
FINE: We know you started your career as a model and had no formal training as a designer, can you share some stories about the very beginning? Have you always known fashion would be the focus of your career?
Amanda Wakeley: I understood the power of clothes from an early age - making and customising clothes - I learned how to use a sewing machine when I was about 10. I have always been fascinated by beautiful fabrics and how they work, I would often buy pieces from charity shops and completely re-invent them just because I loved the fabric. However, it wasn't until I returned from the USA in my early twenties that I realised I couldn't find the clothes that I really loved and I decided that there must be a gap in the market, so I set up a tiny atelier and started with a small collection of pieces that I sold to order the collection was immediately well received by the press and customers and in fact the then Deputy Editor of Vogue was advising HRH Lady Diana, the Princess of Wales and she introduced us, she became my first high profile customer which really helped put the brand on the map. In the early days, I got a Coutts cheque signed by Prince Charles and I banked it straight away. Now I wish I hadn't. It would have been such a fun thing to hang in the loo."
FINE: Could you please introduce the Amanda Wakeley and Amanda Wakeley bridal collections, how would you describe the women who wear Amanda Wakeley?
Amanda Wakeley: I always think of the Wakeley woman as a multi-talented, multi-tasker, who wants to look effortlessly stylish in everything she does. She comes to Wakeley because she trusts the brand's aesthetic to give her pieces that have a fashion relevance, are occasion appropriate but also longevity. We dress women in their twenties all the way through. The fact, I always say that wearing Wakeley is more about an attitude to dressing rather than being a specific age.
FINE: What was the inspiration for your AW19 collection?
Amanda Wakeley: Every season we draw our inspiration from different sources and create a muse…our woman of the season, we talk about who she is, how she would dress and put herself together and that influences the collection.
Amanda Wakeley: Winter 2019 is inspired by tales of 19th century Russia, the opulence and grandeur of the noble families. The Wakeley Woman mixes rich embroideries and jacquards with sharp statement tailoring and adds strength to intricately detailed dresses by layering on luxurious protective layers. She wears rich embellishments and binds her waist with a textural chain fringing harking back to the indulgence of military bullion and thread work. She team's fluid checks with organic paisley prints, creating an eclectic but graphic contrast and a modern take on decadent romance with an iconic sports-luxe edge.
FINE: Do you think Amanda Wakeley has changed over time? Especially, when the market is overwhelmed by the trend, how do you keep a balance between your design and public aesthetic when there is a gap?
Amanda Wakeley: Definitely. We have evolved as has fashion and lifestyles. Our mission is to dress our woman for every occasion in her life whether that be a Board Meeting, a cosy weekend in the country, running through an airport, to the most important day of her life, whatever that may be.
Amanda Wakeley: She requires great wardrobe staples - we call this your Wakeley Wardrobe - timeless pieces that form the foundation of your wardrobe - the perfect white shirt, a great tux suit, beautiful cashmere, a statement coat, a signature bag alongside a stunning siren gown for special occasions. On top of these Signature pieces, we layer our seasonal trend-led collections four times a year as well as two accessories collections a year.
FINE: What will be the most important thing you would like to show about Amanda Wakeley to a new Chinese customer?
Amanda Wakeley: The breadth of the Amanda Wakeley collection and how it can appeal to many women and many lifestyles. The attention to detail in design, fit, crafting and. The thought that goes into each collection from the inspiration and the way to how real women will want to wear it. Offering her wardrobe solutions, versatility and longevity.
FINE: As a fashion designer you were appointed an OBE for your services to the British fashion industry, do you ever feel your life is completed?
Amanda Wakeley: Absolutely not! As a creative I am constantly seeking to perfect and improve each season, it is a driving force. I have an innate desire to make stronger and stronger collections, so my work is never done.
FINE: How do you see the future of British Fashion? Any specific brands you like and would love to share with us?
Amanda Wakeley: I think fashion is becoming increasingly global, you can reach pretty much anywhere in the world via the net but I do think in this world of masstige and the mega brands there is definitely a sophisticated customer who doesn't want to wear a logo with a price tag on their sleeve that is widely distributed. increasingly customers are seeking out things that are more niche and the Chinese customer has always understood the value of British heritage brands.
FINE: What does the word FINE mean to you? Three words to describe FINE.
Amanda Wakeley: Exquisite, delicate, sublime.