Amanda Wakeley fashion label falls into administration

Brand behind Theresa May’s ‘trousergate’ and a favourite of Princess Diana feels Covid impact

Last modified on Fri 14 May 2021 09.55 EDT

Amanda Wakeley, the fashion label behind Theresa May’s “trousergate”, has said it is entering administration after failing to find a buyer following the economic impact of the Covid pandemic.

The eponymous designer, also known for putting Princess Diana in skirt suits and dressing the Duchess of Sussex for her first public outing as an engaged royal, opened her first shop in Chelsea, west London, in 1990. Defining an English aristocratic look for a certain era and helped by Diana’s patronage, by the 2010s the label had about 50 stores internationally.

However, its flagship store in London’s Mayfair was forced to close during the pandemic and the brand never recovered. “Despite an extensive marketing process, attracting significant interest, and a huge effort from Amanda Wakeley and the company’s staff, it was not possible to find a buyer for the business. The board therefore had to make the difficult decision to place the company into administration,” said an administrator

Diana was a long-term fan of Wakeley’s work: her wedding list was at the General Trading Company, Wakeley’s boutique. Alongside Catherine Walker and Bruce Oldfield, Wakeley became one of the princess’s favourites. “[Diana] never expected the red carpet treatment, she’d always just drop by the shop, looking at the clothes as other customers were there – even during the sale,” Wakeley told Vogue.

“My strongest impression of her style was bumping into her at the Harbour Club [in Chelsea]. She was in her exercise kit and she’d thrown one of my cashmere sweatshirts with the satin cuffs on top of it. To me that was such a perfect image of her – that sweater and those long brown legs.”

Though Wakeley’s signature designs were classic rather than edgy they caused a sartorial debate in 2016 when Theresa May posed for a photo shoot in the Sunday Times in a pair of chocolate-coloured leather trousers Amanda Wakeley trousers costing £995. Nicky Morgan, who had been sacked as education secretary by May in the same year, told the Times the trousers had been “noticed and discussed” amongmembers of the Conservative party.

“I don’t have leather trousers. I don’t think I’ve ever spent that much on anything apart from my wedding dress,” she said.

It was later found out that May did not own the trousers but was lent them for the shoot.

The episode was nicknamed “trousergate” and escalated into a conversation around the sexist attitudes that politicians display towards female MPs’ choice of clothes. Nadine Dorries criticised Morgan’s comments “because she never criticised David Cameron’s extremely expensive suits”. Dorries made a link between Morgan’s comments and her remainer sympathies and an alleged determination to undermine May’s Brexit plan.

Later, Morgan was called out for hypocrisy after being photographed carrying a leather handbag from Mulberry that was worth £995.

“I feel sorry for women in politics,” the Tory politician Ken Clarke told the Sunday Politics, “I’m glad to say men in politics don’t have great news stories about what they’re wearing.”

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