GIRLS UNITED: Women took the lead at Amanda Wakeley’s shindig on Thursday night. The London-based designer kicked off fashion week with a celebration of her latest ad campaign, fronted by Phoebe Collings-James. The artist and feminist follows in the footsteps of a strong cast of women, including ballerina Kate Byrne and Kathryn Parsons, cofounder of Decoded, which pushes digital literacy among women.

“I love models, don’t get me wrong,” said Wakeley about her choice of casting women with other professional backgrounds, “but I’m excited about dressing real women that are doing things and doing them well, when there is so much that is manufactured today. It’s about empowering them, too.”

Wakeley said she was busy expanding her label into a lifestyle brand. Sunglasses, watches and fashion jewelry are expected to hit stores next year, with a line of home fragrances to follow. “That’s where we are going — not just red carpet and special occasions, but weekend and everyday,” she revealed.

Collings-James, meanwhile, was fresh off the opening of her solo exhibit at New York’s 315 Gallery, set to run until Oct. 8. Called “Expensive S–t,” the show explores the “connections between place of birth, place of work and sites of heritage,” featuring storytelling by her grandmother and grandaunt. “It’s full of audio installations, sculptures and sound systems, and visitors can walk through and sit and listen and immerse themselves,” she noted, sporting a silky overall from Wakeley’s new fall collection, which takes cues from the free-spirited, bohemian life of Southern cultures.



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