Emirates Bride caught up with Amanda Wakeley to talk couture, this season’s silhouettes and her intrigue behind the Middle Eastern abaya.
On meeting British designer, Amanda Wakeley, it wasn’t just her exquisite gowns that we were taken with. It was her enthusiasm behind her collections and her passion on designing dresses for ‘real’ women – that and being possibly one of the warmest designers we’ve ever met.
Congratulations on your latest venture with Etoile. Tell us about it…
I’ve introduced 25 styles of gowns that are semi-couture. I feel that women need something more bespoke and I have given them the opportunity to do this. They want quality, lots of embellishment and ultimately to feel special. You may see one of the dresses in the collection and it may be white with silver beading, but you can order it custom-made in navy with gold beading and so on.
What can we expect from the Demi-Atelier collection?
All of the dresses are named after iconic women or goddesses and that’s exactly how I want the wearer to feel. There is an element of romanticism in the collection and I feel that they transform and empower women the same way a nicely cut suit can empower a man. I was really inspired by this and I can’t tell you enough how much I just love fabrics. The feathers, the beading, the beautiful fabrics; they are simply stunning.
Dare we ask, what is your favourite piece?
I always laugh as it’s supposed to be so non-PC to pick a favourite but I have to say I am particularly taken with the Cleopatra (a low back navy blue gown). It’s so striking and has real wow-factor.
As a woman designing for women, how do you want people to feel in your creations?
I want women to feel gorgeous. I’ve created my own size range that isn’t number based so it’s either called Skinny Mini or Super Luxe and so on. I don’t like giving women a number such as ‘you’re a 10, or you’re a 12’. I like to be respectful of women as my clients. It’s important that I am intuitive about these things.
Describe the typical Amanda Wakeley lady?
She’s 32 in her mind, she’s ageless. She wants to combine outfits that are timeless but very glam. She wants versatility and practical pieces that are also very fashion forward and that need to work hard. I believe women want longevity and relevance from their pieces.
How did it all begin?
I totally taught myself to design. My mum can’t sew a stitch and my dad is a surgeon so he does another kind of stitching. From a very young age I started to teach myself how to sew. I’ve always been really excited by beautiful fabrics and textures so I started to make clothes for myself and friends – that’s how it all began.
Your designs were featured in Bond movie Skyfall, is this a benchmark for you as a designer?
That was such a ‘wow’ moment for us. We went to the premiere and when we saw Bond girl Naomie Harris wearing one of my yellow gowns in the casino scene we couldn’t contain our excitement.
What are your thoughts on women’s style in Dubai?
I think it’s fabulous and I’m completely taken with the abayas, the embellishments and the way women are creating their individual style with them. I can’t stop looking at them. I think there’s a demand for bespoke dressing here, which is why I decided to bring this collection here. I also feel Etoile offers a very personal shopping experience so it fits well.
Did you have any particular women in mind when designing the collection?
I didn’t have one in mind per se, but I was inspired by the sensuality of the abayas and the way the fabric moves. I feel the elegant style of the Hera gown will appeal to a more conservative Middle Eastern customer.
What’s next for your brand?
We are opening out flagship store in Mayfair. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed picking the interiors – everything from the suede touches on the banisters to the plush carpet in the change rooms. It’s an exciting time for Amanda Wakeley.
The Amanda Wakeley Demi-Atelier collection is available at Etoile, Mall Of The Emirates (04) 3505333