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Muggers jailed after stealing £30,000 gold Rolex from Duchess of Cambridge’s fashion designer

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Royal designer Amanda Wakeley last night described the moment two moped muggers held an axe to her throat to steal her £30,000 Rolex.

The 57-year-old said the ordeal of being targeted as she walked to her Porsche was ‘one of the most frightening experiences in my life’.

Connor Murphy, 26, pounced with an accomplice after earlier letting down the tyres of the car to make Miss Wakeley stop to investigate. 

He threatened her with the axe and screamed ‘give me your watch’ as the other man dragged her to the ground in a headlock.

British fashion designer Amanda Wakeley, pictured with her partner Hugh Morrison, was mugged of her watch by robbers on a moped

British fashion designer Amanda Wakeley, pictured with her partner Hugh Morrison, was mugged of her watch by robbers on a moped

The pair then wrenched her rose gold Rolex Daytona – which she had worn since the death of her father – from her wrist and fled on a scooter.

Miss Wakeley told the Daily Mail: ‘It was one of the most frightening experiences in my life to find a man charging at me with an axe and then me knocked to the ground but I am just grateful that I am fine and know that in this time of Covid there are so many other people who have far worse things to worry about.’

She added: ‘The watch had a special value for me as I bought it after my father died, in his memory.’

The designer, whose signature evening dresses are favourites of the Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Sussex, was left with neck pain after the attack in Chelsea Harbour in London on November 13 last year, London’s Isleworth Crown Court heard.

Connor Murphy, pictured, was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court

Richard Walsh, pictured, was jailed at Isleworth Crown Court

Connor Murphy, pictured left, and Richard Walsh, pictured right, were jailed for more than ten years at Isleworth Crown Court

Murphy pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery while Richard Walsh, 29, of Ladbroke Grove, West London, admitted he helped plan the crime by researching the value of the watch online.

A third man, who had grabbed Miss Wakeley by the throat, has not been caught. Police would like to speak to Mark Toth, 35, from west London, in connection with the robbery. The watch has not been recovered.

CCTV footage taken at the time shows Miss Wakeley walking to her Porsche 997 Carrera 4S before pausing when she realises one of the tyres is flat. 

Murphy then rides on to the pavement on a scooter wielding the axe while his accomplice grabs the fashion designer.

The 57-year-old managed to get this photo of the robbers making off after the mugging

The 57-year-old managed to get this photo of the robbers making off after the mugging

Her partner Hugh Morrison posted this message online after the incident in November

Her partner Hugh Morrison posted this message online after the incident in November

The thieves let the tyres of her car down, stalling her, before riding up and threatening her with an axe (pictured: Ms Wakeley's Porsche)

The thieves let the tyres of her car down, stalling her, before riding up and threatening her with an axe (pictured: Ms Wakeley’s Porsche)

Miss Wakeley’s tyres had been repeatedly deflated over the preceding days, indicating the pre-planned nature of the attack, prosecutor Diana Wilson told the court. 

The pair were caught after police traced a BMW driven to the scene and saw Walsh driving it on the same day as the robbery.

Andrew Caird, from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: ‘This was a targeted and terrifying robbery in broad daylight. 

One defendant was wielding an axe at the victim and the other put her into a headlock before snatching the Rolex watch off her and fleeing. 

The prosecution case included strong CCTV and telephone evidence which included images of the same Rolex watch that was stolen from the victim, on Walsh’s phone.’

Witnesses who rushed to the designer’s aid said she was left quivering on the ground after the attack.

The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex are both big fans of Ms Wakeley's designs and have repeatedly warn them to formal occasions

The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex are both big fans of Ms Wakeley's designs and have repeatedly warn them to formal occasions

The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex are both big fans of Ms Wakeley’s designs and have repeatedly warn them to formal occasions 

Lucy Daniels, defending Murphy, said he planned to use the stolen watch to settle a drugs debt and had been told specifically to target Miss Wakeley. 

Murphy was jailed for six years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and having an offensive weapon, and Walsh was given four years and nine months after admitting his role in the robbery.

Judge Simon Davis, who sentenced the duo on Thursday, described the heist as a ‘carefully planned and organised robbery’.

Miss Wakeley added: ‘I am so grateful to the police for all they did in finding these men who mugged and stalked me. 

‘The fact that two of them are behind bars in good news. I also sincerely hope they find and jail the third attacker.’

The designer with no formal training who made her name with Princess Diana’s ‘powersuits’

Amanda Wakeley, pictured this summer

Amanda Wakeley, pictured this summer

Amanda Wakeley was brought up in Chester, the daughter of a prominent surgeon, Sir John Wakeley.

She has never had any formal training, but from her earliest childhood she was raiding her dressing-up box and altering the contents.

At her boarding school, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, she made extra money by running up clothes for her friends, and her first job, at 16, was working in a designer menswear boutique in Chester.

She began her own design career with a made-to-order collection, which she ran up in her Chelsea studio: ‘There was no great financial backing, just a collection of samples,’ she later said.

Nevertheless, her elegant styles soon brought her to the attention of Princess Diana.

The princess’s patronage made Amanda’s name, and famously, when Diana resigned from public life in 1993, she did so wearing a bottle-green Wakeley suit.

Amanda’s future should have been assured; unfortunately, she had her own marital difficulties to contend with.

By 1998, her marriage to Australian property developer Neil Gillon had ended – but his involvement in her business had not.

Two years later he sold his majority stake to Richard Caring, with Amanda staying on as creative director.

After five years, in 2005, Caring in turn sold the brand on to Saudi billionaire Walid Juffali.

And in 2008, Juffali sold it to the former City trader Jason Granite. Less than a week later, Amanda resigned.

Princess Diana in Amanda Wakeley in 1993

the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011

Princess Diana in Amanda Wakeley in 1993 and the Duchess of Cambridge in 2011

Fortunately, by this stage, Amanda had already fallen in love with Hugh Morrison, a strategic business advisor.

Amanda credits Hugh with the fact that just a month after she lost her eponymous business, a deal had been engineered for her to regain control.

By April 2009, Amanda was back in the driving seat as owner and creative director.

She had not looked back since, with stars such as Scarlett Johansson, Kate Winslet and Angelina Jolie having shimmered down the red carpet in Amanda’s liquid silks.

The Duchess of Cambridge and Queen Rania of Jordan have also worn her label for formal engagements and innumerable brides have chosen to wear Wakeley up the aisle.

More recently, she has changed direction somewhat from purveyor of evening-wear to luxury lifestyle brand and has begun to attract an edgier sort of customer, including Nicole Scherzinger and J-Lo, who wore head-to-toe Wakeley the 2015’s Golden Globes.

 Previously published in You Magazine.

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Gucci bids farewell to fashion week as brand goes seasonless | Fashion

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Fashion week is over, according to Gucci. In a virtual press conference broadcast from his Rome apartment, the label’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, announced that Gucci was slashing the number of fashion shows it holds each year from five to two.

Declaring the fashion week calendar obsolete, Michele said he was no longer adhering to a rota staked out by spring/summer, autumn/winter, cruise and pre-fall shows.

“I think these are stale and underfed words … clothes should have a longer life than that which these words attribute to them,” he said. Instead, the brand will show “seasonless” collections twice a year. There are no plans for a show in September, when the Gucci collection would normally be staged as a key part of Milan fashion week.

The carousel of international fashion shows has been stopped in its tracks by the coronavirus crisis, with menswear and haute couture shows scheduled for June and July cancelled, and the September fashion weeks in doubt. Now, a question mark hangs over not just when – but whether – the merry-go-round of catwalk events will restart.

Michele’s comments elaborated on a series of personal diary entries posted on the Gucci Instagram account on Sunday, which made a link between “performative” fashion shows and the problem of sustainability.

“Above all, we understand we went way too far,” Michele wrote. “Our reckless actions have burned the house we live in. We conceived of ourselves as separated from nature, we felt cunning and almighty.”

Michele, who has a passion for flowery maximalism that encompasses his prose as well as his clothes, added: “We usurped nature, we dominated and wounded it. We incited Prometheus, and buried Pan.





The Gucci store in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore



The Gucci store in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore. Fashion retailers around the world have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis. Photograph: Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

“So much haughtiness made us lose our sisterhood with the butterflies, the flowers, the trees and the roots. So much outrageous greed made us lose the harmony and the care, the connection and the belonging.”

Gucci’s announcement is significant because the Italian powerhouse is by far the mightiest brand to come out in support of a move to a leaner, less wasteful fashion system.

Dries Van Noten has led a number of independent designers calling for a radical overhaul of the industry, with fewer fashion shows and less product. Discussion on this topic has been ongoing in the industry for the past month but the superbrands have until now been mostly silent.

The biggest labels, which have profited the most from the system as it stands and have the necessary financial cushion to ride out the incoming economic crisis, have been less motivated to radical change than smaller brands. By throwing their weight behind the forces of change, Gucci has the ability to shift the balance of power in this conversation.

Last month, Saint Laurent announced it would sit out Paris fashion week this September and set its own schedule going forward, a decision made in amid “waves of radical change”.





Alessandro Michele



Alessandro Michele has been outspoken about the pandemic. Photograph: Daniele Venturelli/Getty Images for Gucci

The brand will “lead its own rhythm … [and] take ownership of its calendar”. Saint Laurent’s opt-out was notable because its catwalk shows, held on the Friday evening of each Paris fashion week on a huge open-air catwalk directly beneath the Eiffel Tower, have become a red-letter date in the French fashion calendar, drawing a supermodel cast, a celebrity front row and large crowds who watch from behind barriers. The absence of a marquee name central to the notion of Parisian chic is a blow to Paris fashion week’s status as the heart of French fashion.

Gucci’s revenue for 2019 was €9.6m (£8.6m), dwarfing its Kering stablemate Saint Laurent, which recorded revenue of €2m for the same period. As the largest and most profitable brand in the Kering luxury group, which also owns Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta, Gucci exerts influence across the industry.

Gucci’s influence is not merely economic. Since taking over five years ago, Michele has positioned himself at the progressive edge of fashion’s engagement with culture.

On the catwalk, his male models wear pussy-bow silk blouses and babydoll dresses. He has dressed the pop star Harry Styles in pearl earrings on stage and the actor Jared Leto in a floor-length evening gown on the Met Gala red carpet.





Harry Styles in New York last year.



Boy with the pearl earring: Harry Styles in New York last year. Photograph: Lexie Moreland/WWD/Rex/Shutterstock

His embrace of gender fluidity has revolutionised the traditional codes of menswear embedded in Italian fashion, and shifted the mainstream away from what he has called “an aesthetic of toxic masculinity”.

Overhaul of the fashion week system and its heavy carbon footprint has been mooted for years, but in 2020 change is becoming an economic necessity. Kering and LVMH, the two largest luxury groups, recorded a drop in revenue of about 15% for the first three months of this year.

Jean-Marc Duplaix, Kering’s chief financial officer, told Womenswear Daily last month that the group was planning “drastic” cost reductions at brand level as it braced for ongoing poor results.

In recent years, Gucci has staged blockbuster shows at Westminster Abbey in London and at the Capitoline Museum in Rome, in addition to events during fashion week. The latest cruise collection had been scheduled for an unveiling in San Francisco last week, until the pandemic forced cancellation.

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Hanifa designer launches collection with 3D runway models to raise awareness for Congo

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Mvuemba released the latest collection for her fashion brand, Hanifa, on Instagram live on Friday. During the show, the models sashayed down the screen with their outfits draped on their headless, three-dimensional bodies.

The Pink Label Congo collection featured pants and dresses in vibrant colors on virtual models for its fashion show, and has been described as the future of runway fashion by spectators.

Mvuemba, whose previous designs have been worn by celebrities such as rapper Cardi B and singer Kelly Rowland says she already had plans to go digital with her collection before various Covid-19 restrictions were put in place around the world.
Mvuemba said during the launch that each of the outfits represents Congo, the central African country where she is from and which is one of the world’s leading producers of cobalt, accounting for more than 60% of the world’s production.

Cobalt is a chemical element used in producing smartphones, tablets and electric vehicles.

One of the outfits was a backless mini dress in red, blue, and yellow, representing the flag of Congo. And a maxi dress in blue and green representing the point where the Congo river meets land.
Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa at the Teen Vogue Celebrates Generation Next

“I am so intentional about everything I do with this collection,” she said. “If you’re African then you know about African seamstresses and how detail is so important and the color is so important and prints are so important.

I really just wanted to use that in this collection, just to give tribute to African seamstresses,” Mvuemba said during the launch.

According to her, like with many African designers, she did a lot of detailing, coloring, and prints on the collection herself.

Congolese cobalt mines

The Pink Label Congo collection is not just about going digital. It’s also about raising awareness for Congolese mines.

Inspired by her hometown in Congo, 29-year-old Mvuemba started the fashion show with a short documentary on the experiences of children working in cobalt mines.
Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dell and Tesla are sued over alleged child labor in Congo
Underaged children and women work in these mines under harsh conditions including physical abuse.

Sometimes they are forced to dig for cobalt with nothing but their bare hands.

In 2019, Tech giants like Apple, Google, Dell, and Tesla were sued for their alleged involvement in using children to mine cobalt in the country.

Raising awareness on mines

Mvuemba said the Pink Label Congo collection was inspired by these mine stories and she is using it to bring awareness around it.

“Growing up, I heard so many stories about the cobalt and mining issues in Congo…a lot of times, there are children at these mines, a lot of them are losing their lives and a lot of families are affected,” she said.

The documentary showcased multiple reports from media organizations about the current mining conditions in Congo and the dangers of including children in the process.

Everything about the collection is related to Congo to serve as a reminder of these mine conditions, Mvuemba said.

“I really wanted to shed light on their conditions. And I want this collection to support and benefit the families that are affected,” she added.


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“A More Inventive Product”: Alessandro Michele Outlines Gucci’s Radical New Fashion Model

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“I am no anarchist. I want to share my idea with others,” Alessandro Michele said on a video call from Rome on Monday afternoon (25 May). On the previous weekend, in a poignant lockdown diary, Michele had announced Gucci’s departure from the traditional show cycle in favour of a seasonless approach to collections. Embracing a post-pandemic appetite for “the essential”, Gucci is replacing its current structure of five separate women’s, men’s and cruise shows with just two annual presentations.

“I have designed a future for this company by also looking to the past. I’m convinced that moving forward also means going back to the origins of this wonderful industry,” Michele said, acknowledging that his new vision for the industry has a lot in common with its old structure, before there were pre- and capsule collection shows several times a year. “We will update it, but we will have to restore what we had in the past, and maybe show you a more inventive product. To do that we need more time.”

Gucci’s decision will no doubt impact the fashion landscape beyond the brand’s own borders. As an industry leader (with a global power base demonstrated by a revenue close to €10 billion, or £9 billion), a move like this could be interpreted as a blueprint for other brands to follow. Since Covid-19 hit Europe and America in March – making this summer’s cruise, men’s and haute couture shows impossible – many in fashion have been eyeing an opportunity to slow down and reform the industry’s incessant production cycle.

“We are a big brand, so we have a responsibility to take care of our industry. We need to give it the time that’s needed. The things we make have a longer life than what we have allotted to them in the past,” Michele said, backdropped by the carved, coffered ceilings of his Renaissance apartment. “We all agree that fall and spring are the most appropriate [time frames] to show our work, but I hope that other brands will follow us so we can have an open dialogue to arrange new dates.”

In expressing his desire to reorganise the existing fashion week schedule through industry effort, Michele deflated rumours that Gucci will leave fashion week altogether. As for this September’s fashion weeks, still up in the air, he said Gucci wasn’t counting on presenting a collection. “I don’t think we will meet in person next time. We have been shut down for a long time so I don’t think we will have a regular calendar for September. I want to recover a new kind of time – real and practical – so we’ll choose another date.”

In recent weeks, a number of initiatives fronted by independent designers and fashion councils have proposed new season structures. But, until now, conglomerate-owned brands like Gucci, which comes under the umbrella of Kering, as well as the councils that control the all-important Paris and Milan fashion weeks have largely remained silent. In April, Saint Laurent, also owned by Kering, proclaimed its withdrawal from the unconfirmed Paris Fashion Week in September, disclosing that “the brand will lead its own rhythm” going forward.

Gucci’s news, however, marks the most momentous move made in fashion as a result of the coronavirus. Backed up by Michele’s manifesto-like lockdown diary (which is worth the read), it isn’t merely business but a philosophy for a new age of awareness in fashion. “I hope that the choices we do make will respect the actual timing of fashion and factories, and the people who work there,” he said on Monday. By reducing the industry’s output, Michele wants to increase the sustainability of the fashion we buy.

“I haven’t got enough space for myself here,” he smiled, gesturing at his princely domestic surroundings. “There are clothes everywhere. They deserve love and care, and if they stay in our care for longer, that will be much better.” A seasonless structure is suitable for Michele’s vision, which evolves unhurriedly within a highly established creative universe he once called “Renaissance street style”. A gift to retail, it has created a Gucci shopping realm that already feels seasonless: a candy store of diverse product provided in a steady stream that rarely looks as if any particular piece belongs to one collection or the other.

In that sense, while it doesn’t necessarily serve as an ideal blueprint for brands that sell themselves on more radical shifts in direction every six months, Michele’s seasonless revolution is a perfect fit for Gucci. Many are united in the belief, however, that post-pandemic fashion will be about creating a more humane and sensible take on the traditional seasonal fashion cycle. Asked how he is going to meet the revenue of five annual collections with just two, Michele smiled: “Since I started working for Gucci I have always had this dialogue. I am looking forward to being surprised once more.”

For the 48-year-old designer, the current situation seems cathartic. He spent his life as an anonymous team designer until his 360-degree proposal for a new Gucci won him the promotion in 2015 and turned that life upside-down. In five astronomically successful years at the helm of Gucci, Michele has become a fashion superstar, business visionary and retail wizard, with a relentless schedule to match his ever-increasing responsibilities. He has made no secret of the pressures that come with that kind of success.

In January, Gucci returned to individual men’s shows after seasons of co-ed presentations, effectively adding a show to Michele’s schedule. A month after, he staged a meta women’s show that brought the backstage area to the runway as an illustration of the nonstop fashion cycle he inhabits. “I asked myself, why am I repeating this ritual time and again? I’m exhausted after a fashion show. It’s really tiring,” he said at the time. “Being in the fashion world is like being an isolated nun. We travel around the world, always saying, ‘One day we’ll give up and do something else’. But that day never comes. Fashion is very powerful.”

Michele’s words perfectly captured fashion’s ambivalent relationship with itself: a passionate and incessant hamster wheel of desire and ambition. With its new initiative – the practicalities of which will be decided through industry dialogue – Gucci sets out to humanise that wheel by halting it and restarting it, with more sustainable fuel, at a speed less furious. “I had time available I never had before,” a kaftan-clad Michele said of the lockdown, occasionally fanning himself with a large black fan. Now, he teased, “I feel like a horse ready to start a race.”

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