In this episode of My Life in Seven Charms, Annoushka talks to the lovely Amanda Wakely, British Fashion Designer, Writer, Creative Director, and Podcast Host. Her iconic fashion brand launched in 1990 where her signature style has been adored by iconic figures like Diana, Angelina Jolie, and Beyoncé. Now the host of the Amanda Wakely Style DNA podcast, she talks with fabulous people about their best and worst fashion moments. Sharing a history of decades, Annoushka and Amanda distil her life moments in seven symbolic charms in 18ct gold.
Her first charm takes the form of a locket in 18ct yellow gold, featuring a pink sapphire heart at its centre. It opens to reveal a space for photographs, a personal engraving, or miniature mementoes. Amanda has a love of strength and fitness; she believes that the beating heart is who you are, your soul, and the love and warmth that comes from it.
Amanda's childhood, growing up with her two older brothers in the countryside, was warm and carefree. After pressure from her parents, she pursued a personal assistant diploma after completing her A-levels, before dabbling with law and accounting. She wanted to explore the excitement of the world, moving to America alongside her then boyfriend.
Her childhood was surrounded by dogs, and it was the bizarre love of the smell of their paws (something Annoushka and Amanda share), that led to her next charm; a dog paw. It has been designed with an indent that you can push your thumb into and is crafted in yellow gold with black diamonds.
The next charm represents Amanda's early experiences with sewing. She fondly remembers rifling through a dressing up box, carving a new suit from the silks of her glamorous grandmother's saris. She would buy the Vogue patterns and alter them, igniting something in her. Originally inspired by a darning needle, Annoushka represented this memory as a charming cotton reel. Crafted in 18ct yellow gold, it features white pave diamonds on the top and bottom, white gold wire wound around it and a yellow gold needle attached to a chain.
Amanda's journey continued as she was scouted in Florida, leading to her modelling career in New York during the 1980s. This experience introduced her to a gritty and edgy side of the city. She married an American, relocated to London, and embarked on her fashion career with a small studio in Chelsea. She would live and breathe fashion from the confines of her own home, often working into the early hours then crashing onto her bed. Her big break came when Diana was seen on the front cover of The Daily Mail wearing one of her suits. It was this exposure that made the suit sell out in 24hrs.
The next charm is a phoenix, symbolising transformation, resilience, and overcoming adversity. The yellow gold phoenix sits within a circular frame and spreads its wings as it emerges from the ashes. Set with coloured sapphires and garnets, its wings are textured, and it spins. Amanda describes the fashion industry as a game of chance with many complexities. In 2021, she encountered significant challenges, including an unfavourable business partnership and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to her brand going into administration. However, she used these setbacks as catalysts for reinvention, resulting in the launch of her successful podcast.
The following charm is a feather, articulated with fronds that move individually. It is crafted in yellow gold with white gold fronds, blue sapphires, and emeralds on the ends. This charm carries emotional significance as it reminds Amanda of her father's love for birds and photography and a wildlife book he had, inspired some of her prints. Bird song also became incredibly special to her. In the final months of her brother's life, he became obsessed with bird song. She relives so many charming memories of him saying 'shh, shh, listen, listen to that bird'.
An avid skier, Amanda passionately believes in the healing power of nature. She embarked on a ski mountaineering adventure in Antarctica, an otherworldly experience surrounded by pristine snow, icebergs, and jewelled waters. This trip of a lifetime was distilled in a snowflake charm in white gold. White quartz, chosen for its individuality and distinctive inclusions, serves as the centrepiece, embodying the idea that no two snowflakes are identical. The little crystals are set with white diamonds to capture the allure of frost.
The final charm is a cheerful sun in yellow gold, featuring an engraved smiling face and eyes with orange sapphires. The sun's moving rays are decorated with graded-colour sapphires from orange to yellow. Amanda emphasises the importance of smiles and kindness, reminiscing about her brother's impact on people's lives through his small, meaningful acts of inquiry and kindness. She emphasises the power of a smile and the significance of spreading warmth to strangers.
Amanda's thriving podcast and her numerous forthcoming projects stand as a testament to her remarkable creative journey and unwavering resilience. As a thank you, Annoushka asks Amanda to select a charm to be brought to life, and Amanda chooses the phoenix, a profound symbol of her triumphant rebirth from the ashes—an emblem rich with personal nostalgia.