As Said By

Salzburg U.S.A

This entry posted on March 8th, 2010

Karen Walker approaches each season almost like a jazz musician. She intro­duces an idea, evolves it in a few direc­tions, and then loops it back around to a fully formed compos­ition. She called the Fall collection Salzburg, USA — an imaginary place where an American take on old-world European wardrobe tradi­tions resides.

She opened with a matched look of puffy jacket, blazer, button-front shirt, and skinny cuffed pants all cut in a faded floral that looked like a descendant of the Von Trapp children’s curtain couture. The looks that followed seemed to ask, “Just how would Americans dress for the Alps?” Well, if they had Walker’s quirky-smart sense of chic, in oversize sheepskin collars, matched jacquard sweater-and-skirt sets, or a kicky, boyish loden suit. Or perhaps they’d turn the tables with a college sweat­shirt, corduroys, and a balaclava that approx­imated either an old-school football helmet or a medieval hood. That last look is from Walker’s brand-new casual line, called Runaway, which now encap­su­lates all her denim, T-shirts, and, from Fall, corduroy pants and sweat­shirt pieces with wild, woolly fringe. About half the clothes on the runway were from Runaway.

But this isn’t Walker’s only bit of business news. She recently opened an altern­ative department store in her native Auckland, New Zealand, that stocks her collection, among others, as well as beauty and house­wares. She’s also looking to open a second store in Asia. This being her eighth season in New York, perhaps the next stop is Manhattan.

Calling her collection Salzburg, USA, Karen Walker took her audience, which included Br-It girl Susie Bubble, on an Austria-by-way-of-America adventure (she cited Bob Dylan and The Sound of Music as her twin influences).

But this was pure Walker all the way, from the muddy floral print that turned up on puffer jackets and trench coats to cute corduroy trouser suits, to the subtly quirky colour combin­a­tions (exemplified by a rust-and-peach jacquard sweater with a contrasting rust-and-peach striped skirt and knee socks).

Shaggy sheepskin vests had more than one editor saliv­ating, though overall this collection was far more stream­lined and even – can it be?- minim­alist than we’ve come to expect from the New Zealand native (two ill-conceived green lurex dresses notwithstanding).

The most winning looks here were, in fact, the simplest, be it a bow-shouldered navy wool shell worn with matching walking shorts (an unlikely winter trend that we’ve already spied on several New York runways), a Tyrolean-inspired boiled wool blazer paired with cropped wool trousers, or a sleek charcoal and black striped sweater worn with a pristine rust flannel skirt — the only adornment in each case being the models’ matte red kisser.

How do you say chic in Austrian?

The first show that made us scream “I die, Bananas.”

Karen Walker said her Fall 2010 collection was called “Bob Dylan meets The Sound of Music,” but we came up with a different moniker while watching this stuff from the front row: “I Want Everything.”

That was the basic sentiment as piles of Fair Isle prints, fuzzy cropped jackets, and insanely cute pink heels paraded down the runway, leading the Refinery 29 editors next to us to exclaim, “How many personal orders can we make?!”

It also led to a fun, if uneasy, conclusion: Karen Walker is the new Luella.

Fine. We said it.
- Nylon Magazine

The Karen Walker show is always a delight. Settled in the cozy Altman Building, far from the hustle and bustle of Milk or Bryant Park, it’s a chilled-out, fun, dare I say groovy experience.

After jumping backstage to sneak a peek at the hair and make-up (voluminous ponytails and red lips!) and catch up with Nylon’s – née Fashionsta’s – Faran Krentcil and the lovely Julia Frakes (we are both rocking the same Essie Mint green nail polish this week!), I trotted to my seat behind Peaches Geldof to watch the show.

Last season Karen did psyche­delic, but FW10 was a little more straight edge, in inspir­ation at least. Referencing both The Sound of Music and Bob Dylan (an odd sounding pair, I know), Walker showed a collection of light prints, short suits, thigh high socks, and some giant sheepskin collars and vests perfect for every­where from the Alps to Alaska.

Standout looks included two mint green lurex dresses with black piping that were pure ’60s and pure fun. The opening floral suit and puffer, inspired by the Von Trapp’s infamous curtain scene, was full of Walker’s signature quirk and joy.

What makes Walker’s collec­tions so special every season, other than her fantastic accessories and shoe collab­or­a­tions with Pointer, is that she finds her inspir­ation in things she truly loves, making her synthesis of ideas smooth and fluid, and perfectly her.

And while there were no cookies in the gift bags this season, we’d still call her FW10 collection delectable.

Karen Walker has always been the girl to go to for clothes with a distinct setting and this time, it’s Salzberg, USA, an imaginary place where American classics outdoor wear get given vaguely Swiss Alps twists. A faded floral puffa jacket and matching trousers that opens the show sets the tone for the rest of the collection. The prints that ensued all had an uphol­stery quality that played off well with the casual flippy skirts, sweat­shirts and trouser suits all given outdoor-nudging details like sheepskin linings and toggles. Dressier highlights included a wavy sculpted dress in iridescent blue.