As Said By


This entry posted on February 10th, 2008

Eccentricity has a precarious relationship with the fashion industry, partic­u­larly in commer­cially driven New York. But Karen Walker, now in her third season here, has built a solid business on her singular, cheery-but-subversive brand of sartorial whimsy. To wit, she considered adding classic styles to her popular line of eyewear before deciding to just give ‘em nothing but big and bold. The result: multiple reorders at Barneys. The lesson: To thine own self be true.

For Spring, Walker spun a tale that wove through the garden party of a kooky-chic neighbor before winding up on the track at Churchill Downs — the latter being the result of watching the Marx Brothers classic A Day at the Races, as well as of a longtime obsession with jockeys. “They’ve always been in my book of things I’d like to do a collection about,” the designer explained after the show. As is often the case with Walker, it all made charming sense in the execution. There was a real freshness to thirties-style floral tea dresses and seventies-style wide-legged pants topped with floppy hats, knotted scarves, and Rachel Zoe-worthy sunglasses. From the racecourse, Walker took jodhpurs, zippered jackets, and bobbled caps, trans­forming them into kicky, tomboyish looks that fulfilled both the sporty and gender-bending quotas that seem to be require­ments in a Walker affair. The designer also turned the graphic silks of a jockey’s uniform into polka-dot shifts and harlequin blouses. Amidst this mélange was a pair of under­stated black dresses; even eccentrics need a day off now and then.

Karen Walker was good as well. There was a lot of under­stated refer­ences to the jockey envir­onment of the UK — riding pants in shiny nylon, caps with tassels, loads of argyle, etc. In general, Karen Walker showed a very feminine and romantic collection with florals, red, beige and pink being the focal fabric choices. Again, it was about draping and layering, but in a relaxed and laidback way. Great for an afternoon at the race track. — Kaspar Moerk

Pretty and whimsically humorous, it can only be Karen Walker. Drawing inspir­ation from the Marx brothers’ film A Day at the Races, Walker produced another superb collection.

It’s always been in our book to do a collection around jockeys sometime,” said Walker after the show. “It’s because the colours are so whack and they always clash a little bit, and there’s really strong graphics. There’s so much else that you can play with that’s fun, like the little caps.

Then where there are jockeys you have the pretty race dresses and that kind of stuff — so it leads into lots of different places.”

Opening the show was a flurry or drop-waisted dresses and neat cricket knits, the collection looked quint­es­sen­tially English. Pattern clash was key throughout, as ditsy country florals met with ticking stripes and of course the jockey spots and argyle diamonds.

Long swing dresses brought femin­inity to the racecourse while more literal trans­la­tions brought in the trademark Walker wit — silky jockey shirts, bobbled caps and cotton jodhpurs. Neat knitted sweaters featured buttons and bows, while military touches added even more of a whimsical air.

Karen Walker’s sweet collection came out in Easter-egg hues with big playful polka dots. The New Zealand native’s shorts had eyelet ruffles peeking out and dresses were wrapped with spring’s requisite belt, knotted.

If there’s one thing you can predict about a Karen Walker show, it’s that the clothes will be unpre­dictable. New Zealand’s biggest fashion export, Karen’s quirky, subversive style is pleas­antly eccentric.

Her spring/summer 08 collection is unique and fresh, with thirties-style floral tea dresses meandering through a sea of jockey-inspired prints and styles. Bold harlequin-print blouses and polka-dot shifts are funked-up with waist belts, floppy straw hats, ankle boots and oversized shades, as are the floral dresses that resonate garden-party chic.

This seemingly strange mix is, in fact, hugely successful. Jodhpurs and shorts teamed with blazers cater for the tomboy, while floaty dresses, cute minis and floral prints have girly-girls all wrapped up.

Reportedly inspired by the Marx Brother’s classic A Day at the Races, Walker admits she’s always been intrigued by jockeys. ‘They’ve always been in my book of things I’d like to do a collection about,’ she revealed backstage.

Among Karen Walker’s English florals and ‘70s style neck scarves were more satin shorts, including a striped pair with a matching top that looked ripped straight from her boyfriend’s armoire.

Still a relat­ively unknown name in the US, Kiwi Karen Walker is, well, quite a big deal outside our borders — and every season at her New York Fashion Week show, it’s clear as to why.

Styled by super-stylist Heathermary Jackson and cast by queen of casting Barbara Pfister, the Spring/Summer 2008 Karen Walker show was a mish-mash of crazy looks which included 1960s King’s Road London bohemian, Little House on the Prairie floral maxi-dresses, Alice from the Brady Bunch 70s-inspired flutter-sleeve tops over pale wide-leg jeans, and silhou­ettes akin to the clothes World War II nurses might wear on a night out, but in jockey-inspired colors.

Want to hear the crazy part? It all worked together as a collection really well. Surprised? Well, we were too. Our favorite favorite favorite things were Karen Walker’s super-cool sunglasses — bold, colorful frames with black, amber, or rose-tinted lenses. Geek chic is back, ladies

Karen Walker always seem to end up on my top ten list. I love this collection and I will not be surprised if the same thing happens this year. I love the soft palette together with the navy blue, I love the hats and the mix of solids and patterns, and of course the quirky shades to go with it all.

New Zealander Karen Walker’s clothes always pack a punch, mixing wearab­ility with whimsy — which is precisely why, we’re guessing, we saw Teen Vogue’s Amy Astley front and center at the show on Thursday. Walker’s Spring/Summer 2008 collection conjured memories (inherited memories, that is) of a sort of “Best Of” of late 60’s/early 70’s icono­graphy. The opening look had us screaming “Carol Brady!”, while other ensembles seemed straight out of the costume department of The Stepford Wives (pussy bows, pom poms, and polka dots; short shorts in easy silks.) We look forward to the spread in which Teen Vogue tries to make these clothes look serious, but ends up making them look ridiculous in ways they were never intended to be.

Inspired by one of her favorite flicks, the Marx Brothers’ Day at the Races, New Zealander Karen Walker delivered another fun and fabulous collection of teenage-queen-style pieces all fit for a quirky-cool grown-up. Walker has a knack for fashioning a great dress, short or long, and this time ’round, she didn’t disap­point with flowing floral gownettes (ie: fetching ruffled lawn dresses), and irres­istible short and sexy things like the chambray sash mini dress. Other must-haves included the truly awesome khaki trench, sun hats, and signature high-waisted shorts that make us want to hit the elliptical pronto.

The Karen Walker girl has grown up a little for Spring 2008 in New York with the New Zealand designer showing the world that her classic styles with a quirky twist is still quite popular.

I loved the use of prints and the more tailored two pieces instead of sending down endless dresses on to the runway. Styling a variety of different patterns, vests with cardigans or jackets showed off Walker’s love of prints and the slightly eccentric part of fashion. While the high waists and tea dresses were not new the fashion, Walker managed to show a collection that seemed fresh, giving you the send that the brand was growing up.

Of all the shows in all of fashion week Karen Walker is always one of my favorites, maybe because her combo of girlie whimsy and cheeky tomboy wit is always just spot on. Since Walker launched a line of eyewear last season I’ve been double obsessed and practically knocked half the front row ( sorry fashion folk! ) scram­bling to get a picture of a model wearing a pair of new new collection KW shades. Along with the taxi-cab yellow frames, this girl wearing jodhpurs might as well have been in the show too, since the whole collection was inspired by the Marx bros A Day at the Races. There were tons of silky polka dots and diamonds blouses in jockey-friendly colors; the occasional pom-pom topped racing cap and seersucker floppy hats paired with rose-tinted glasses. LAst season Walker made dictators the inspir­ation of her big and bold frames, but judging by all the acid-bright circular frames up for next spring, it looks like Walker might have invited a few awesome nutty professors into the studio.

Watch out hipsters, here she comes. Karen Walker has taken your favorite red first-grade teacher style dress, tailored it, given it a trim, and belted it for all you sassy girls ( and boys!) out there.

Determined to create pieces for people who want to stand out as individuals, her Spring 2008 collection made some bold maneuvers including a day suit that seemed to be cut from vertical-striped silk pajamas and comfy silk boxers turned to outerwear. She paired frilly brown shorts beneath super-femme polished party dresses; she put the thickest of nerd alert glasses in the mix; she tucked in an entire twin set to a pair of slacks! Yet despite stylist Heathermary Jackson reaching new volumes of stylistic whimsy, such carefree layering was balanced by the appearance of dresses that were unchar­ac­ter­ist­ically contained to one fabric, one shape, one colour ( no print! ) and exuded a certain clean­liness that Karen has steered clear of in the past. But such pieces should still work for the Walker who wants to top it off with a pom-pom top silk cap in cyan and more import­antly give buyers safer options.

Multi prints were reawakened from their LAura Ashley days of fame, and were occasionally adorned with Miss America style pageant sashes. The severe reptilian textured high hells added some sultry attitude to the soft silk and floral sweetness. Geometric patterned knee highs and straw hats were trends sure the please the party kids.

Unpredictable color combin­a­tions in the silks and jockey jackets such as that of apricot and lavender were a tempting option for spring weather, but it was the red and cream argyle short-sleeved top with a white and blue skirt and bow tie that stuck in my mind deeply enough to remember to visit the shops when the line actually hits.

At the end of the show, a glowing ( pregnant! ) Karen Walker came out to take a bow, and her love of playing with pattern, texture, and applying all that’s fun about the vintage under­ground to high fashion radiated from her smiling face. What a treat it was to see someone with a light heart in the fashion industry frenzy. No wonder her clothes are so fun
 — Xenia Viray,

Karen Walker’s collection revolved around prints of floral and stripes, with a hint of English seaside sensib­ility. Designs were clashed and layered and fashion156 loved the use of floaty florals, the draped silk with struc­tured tailoring access­orized with oversized bow neckties, and the great straw hats. As with previous Walker collec­tions there were a blur of refer­ences from thirties style tea dress, to jodhpurs and caps inspired by the racecourse.
 — Laura

In a commer­cially driven city like new york, new zealand designer karen walker is a breath of fresh air. like her contem­porary marc jacobs, walker is one of the few designers showing in new york whose clothes have such an endearing, whimsical charm about them that has earned her a cult like following with the downtown set, which only got bigger when she started showing in new york two seasons ago. with this, her third big apple present­ation, walker showed her trademark mix and max haber­dashery, but this season, her girl was a little bit crazy…well eccentric might be a better word. she basically covered every era with this collection, from the forties style floral prints, sixties sergeant pepper jackets, seventies wide leg pants, and a little bit of eighties mud club thrown in the mix. in a less adept hand, those refer­ences could’ve resulted on a collection that lacked direction, however with walker’s talents, they not only succeed, it is actually the fact that makes her successful. she has the talent of compounding those influ­ences and putting it in a way that is modern and young without looking too literal. it has that almost naive nonchalance that it never looks like she’s trying too hard. even though the present­ation of the clothes might seem to only fit a younger demographic, individually her pieces are actually quite versatile and approachable to various age groups, meaning that in time, those downtown girls who buys her clothes now will still be wearing Walker when they grow up and move uptown.

The reports of New Yorker’s obsession with Karen Walker sunglasses are true. Attending Walker’s New York Fashion Week show on Thursday I was delighted to discover a pair of sunglasses in my goodie bag but when the show ended, I realised someone had swiped them. The same thing happened to’s Tim Blanks – the entire contents of his bag were pilfered. Walker’s summer collection ‘Lucky’ made of of the week’s strongest state­ments on the runway. Even with a taxi strike to contend with, Walker’s downtown location at 310 W Broadway in trendy Soho was over capacity with no spare standing space to be had, a valid­ation of what Walker has achieved in two seasons in New York.
Walker, who is six months pregnant, nearly didn’t show because her stylist Heather-Mary Jackson is due to give birth in Tauranga next week. The pair, whom Walker described as “matching Teletubbies”, were in constant contact throughout the day in the lead up to the show via email and telephone making final adjust­ments. The superbly styled and well edited collection was inspired by racing jockey’s silks and 1930s film A Day at the Races. “Ellerslie racecourse lives,” said Blanks. The collection hit the mark with its edgy silks feauturing bold graphics and colour blocking. Yet it was subtle – an example was a indelible dress with pale blue circles on white, and smart colour combin­a­tions. A winner’s floral wreath print encircled necklines. Cute racing caps in bright satins were decorated with bows. Jodhpur-style capri pants that narrowed at the calf were paired with patent leather ankle boots. Also featured were Walker’s now trademark high waist wide leg pants and her impec­cable sculp­tured and constructed cap sleeves. The most dramatic new silhouette from Walker, however, were her floral frocks. Narrow at the shoulders, the frocks were big on volume – long and full through the body, falling to mid-calf.