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Shopwatch: Amanda Wakeley

Amanda Wakeley has turned an 18th-century Mayfair townhouse into her new brand flagship.

Amanda Wakeley is known for her stylish but relaxed approach to womenswear, and the look and feel of the designer’s new flagship store at number 18 Albemarle Street in Mayfair lives up to that reputation.

When Drapers visits the 3,000 sq ft boutique set across two floors of a five-storey building - adjacent to Brown’s Hotel and neighbouring stores such as Paul Smith - on the eve of its grand unveiling, we find Wakeley with her pet black labrador Lola in tow, keen to show us around. “I wanted it to have a homely feel; to be luxurious but comfortable,” she says.

Wakeley has named all the rooms in the early 18th-century, Grade II-listed London townhouse to retain a domestic feel.

Customers enter via the ‘hall’ with a light-filled ‘gallery’ to the rear, while a sweeping 19th-century wrought iron staircase takes you up to the ‘landing’ and ‘drawing room’.

The flagship houses Amanda Wakeley’s full offer: ready-to-wear, where retail prices range from £250 for a top to £2,895 for an all-over embellished dress; cashmere, priced from £225 to £495; accessories, which vary greatly from £48 card holders up to the Ella Python Tote at £2,395; beachwear, priced at £95 for a bikini bottom to £1,500 for an embellished kaftan; and the demi-couture Atelier collection, ranging from £3,000 to £9,000. With the exception of the Atelier collection in the drawing room and beachwear on the landing, all the collections are mixed in together and spread throughout the store.

Wakeley has been very much hands-on with the storefit, and as we walk through the hall downstairs she is keen to point out all the pieces of furniture she hand-picked. They include velvet chairs in the style of modernist furniture designer Edward Wormley; a Willy Rizzo coffee table complete with an insert for an ice bucket that she has used instead to showcase a handbag; an imperial black marble fireplace; a large display table by furniture designer Tom Faulkner; and the hotel porter-inspired gold clothing racks.

“To me they’re just very lux and remind me of good times,” she says.

Box lighting throughout ensures a soft, flattering hue, while a brass inlay adds a polished edge to the black parquet flooring, and a patternated brass counter and walled stairway provide a modern touch. Wakeley’s personality is evident - she not only names all her handbags after her dogs past and present, but in the gallery the mannequin is flanked by a canine companion showcasing the designer’s range of dog leads - a must-have for any fashionable dog walker.

Wakeley has thought of the smallest details. Even the bannister that leads upstairs is covered in leather to add texture and a luxury feel. The landing predominantly houses the beach collection and here mannequins perch on alcoves in the stairwell, with one on a two-seat chair used by customers. There is a small kitchen and bathroom to the rear of the first floor, which can be used for hospitality.

Separated by large mirrored doors is the appointment-only drawing room, where about 15 Atelier designs are showcased with a few Amanda Wakeley vintage numbers thrown in for good measure. Key design features include a large marble fireplace, sofa versions of the Edward Wormley-inspired chairs, a dressing room with a hammered metal wall and a bespoke ornate chain jewellery-like chandelier. “I use a lot of chain in my embellishment, so I went to Tuscany and worked with an artisan factory to create this for the store,” says Wakeley.

Speaking about the decision to open on Albemarle Street, she adds: “I didn’t want to open on Mount Street like everyone else, I wanted to find a new Mount Street.”

The brand’s chief executive, Sagra Maceira de Rosen, says the boutique is the first of a new generation of Amanda Wakeley stores, with the Chelsea store and Harvey Nichols concessions due to be refurbished imminently and further openings in the pipeline: “We are exploring a few neighbourhoods in London. We are also starting to look at potential locations in the US - a market where Amanda Wakeley is increasingly well known and where the aesthetics and positioning of the brand are a great fit.

Expansion in the Middle East, another historically good market for us, will be done with local partners. We also love Scandinavia as a potential location for our stores.”

Turning her attention back to Mayfair, Wakeley says the whole area is on the up, and even offers a tip on the next street to see a luxury retail influx: “I think Cork Street will be the one to watch in about five years’ time - watch this space.”

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