As Said By


This entry posted on February 12th, 2013

Karen Walker is a serious music fan, and several of her best collec­tions have been inspired, more or less directly, by whatever it is she’s had blasting through her headphones. Today’s show found Walker riffing on the venomous post-punk of Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Damned, source material that she trans­lated into one of her most compelling outings in a while. There was a welcome shift in attitude here — simply put, Walker dispensed with quirky and replaced it with a tougher, more rebel­lious tone of youthful eccent­ricity. One garment encap­su­lated the change, a duster-length trenchcoat that was downright intim­id­ating, especially in black. But even pieces that could have been twee, like a pair of cropped trousers with bow-fronted, crisscrossed suspenders, had a punkish je ne sais quoi.

Alongside the collection’s upgraded toughness, there was a new sense of sophist­ic­ation, too. Walker had seriously de-fussed her looks, emphas­izing clean silhou­ettes and solid colors, and though it was easy to imagine the typical young Walker fan wearing the collection’s simple wrap vests or belted tunic dresses, you could also see a fashionably pared-down woman of any age falling for the allure in those looks. Similarly, Walker’s slouchy trousers, flared biker jackets, and neoprene floral skirts could translate into a wide variety of wardrobes and be worn in many ways. To sum up this show with a musical analogy: If the attitude of Walker’s collection was the beat that made you prick up your ears and take notice, then the melody you’d find yourself humming days later was its broadly appealing polish.

There is something about the Karen Walker girl. If you didn’t want to be her, you certainly want to have her as a friend. Those slouchy suits, the effortless mix of patterns, and those always sunny specs — anyone clad head to toe in Karen Walker is certain to be a blast.

For her most recent collection, Walker doesn’t pull any punches or head out of her comfort zone. Instead, she continues to perfect the cheerful, laid-back Americana and ultra-layered separates that’re meant to be mixed and matched. In fact, that may be Walker’s strongest suit: She has a completely cohesive vision, and it feels like any of her pieces are meant to be paired. Colors have the same value across the spectrum, prints are refined enough to coolly clash without jarring a look, and similar themes are woven throughout the entire collection. Construction orange, somehow, works with olive green, and plaid looks just right with floral.

Of course, her trade­marked glasses came out (and so did some of her Advanced Style models, who posted up in the front row), but most impressive were the stamped leather clutches and tangerine loafers. With a collection in line with fall’s serious obsession with draping, these punchy additions helped polish the relaxed looks and pull them together…because being perfectly assembled is what a Karen Walker girl does best.

Karen Walker’s fall outing had a more polished and less offbeat vibe than in past seasons. There were chic duster coats in black, ivory, olive and poppy red, which dominated her palette. Solid vest dresses layered over shirts and pants looked effortless, and the olive sweaters worn over a midi dress and a black-and-white printed number had just the right amount of playfulness.

Karen Walker’s shows are filled with truly desirable pieces that you want to snatch right off the models and wear onto the street. The ability to create such special pieces season after season is Walker’s amazing gift, and for Fall 2013 she did not disappoint.

Looking to Siouxsie Sioux for inspir­ation, Walker created pieces that were bigger and badder than usual, and contrasted those with the sweet, almost girly pieces she’s known for. Translation: giant, drop waist duster coats in creme and black and a slim, almost villainous long-sleeved, grey flecked minidress signaled the tougher side of things. On the flip side were rosy looks like a miniskirt and puffer complete with a snuggly orange scarf and pom-pom knit hat.

On the whole, the collection had more “grown-up” pieces than seasons past, the sort of sleek things with person­ality you could see on Jenna Lyons, while still maintaining the fun, flirty pieces you would imagine on Julia Frakes. Plus, there were some ivory loafers that I think everyone, regardless of your personal taste, is drooling over.