As Said By


This entry posted on September 19th, 2011

Karen Walker doesn’t do much black. As she pointed out after her show today, navy is her funda­mental neutral — “the god color,” as a member of her team put it. Walker’s preference for navy over black says a lot about her as a designer: In her eyes, the world is a more cheerful place than it is for most of her peers. And so at first blush, it seemed an odd fit that Walker’s inspir­ation this season was Taxi Driver, the emblematic film of seventies New York grimness. Finding that out before the show was a bit like hearing that Katy Perry had covered “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” Huh? Really?

Not that Walker doesn’t have a subversive streak; she does. But her collec­tions always have a lot of pep, and she didn’t sacrifice any of it as she took on Scorsese’s classic. “We were playing with the idea that Betsy and Iris, in that film, represent these two different kinds of American women,” Walker explained. “Betsy is feminine and elegant and aloof; Iris is tough and girlish. We wanted to see how we could push those characters through our own look.”

It hardly seemed possible, but Walker’s extra­pol­a­tions this season relied upon an even more emphatic use of print than usual. Blown-up checks and stripes girded a bunch of microdots and graphic florals, including a bang on-trend tropical floral in turquoise. Walker spun the prints into natty, forties-inspired dresses (Betsy) and pegged pants and little shorts (Iris).

There’s always a menswear inflection in Walker’s collec­tions, and this season was no different: Alongside her signature boyfriend blazers, she also created a terrific, eye-searing print that magnified the texture of tweed, and a supersize hound­stooth that was especially good in white and navy. In general, this show had a more formal feeling than is typical for Walker — the real story was those ladylike, forties-style dresses, which fit in nicely with this season’s emerging trend of soigné looks. That said, tomboy Walker fans will have no trouble picking out pieces here.

Karen Walker has softened back up since last season’s Northern England working class-inspired collection, but there was still a borrowed from the boys/working girl vibe to this season, albeit a cuter, quirkier one who does not shy away from prints.

This collection was all about florals – tropical and ’60s flower child-esque daisies — and oversized picnic plaids and stripes. Although Walker was appar­ently inspired by the 1976 film Taxi Driver, many of the dresses and blouses had 1940s feel. There were peplums and buttoned-up collars. They were wearable and very chic – but not too chic. The silhou­ettes were loose, the prints off-beat and the hair a little bit messy. Still, they were a bit more ladylike than is typical of Walker, at least that’s how it started.

As the show went on, the menswear-inspired suiting came out (I especially loved the polka dots mixed with stripes seen above), as did more casual options like sundresses, super thin cardigans, shorts and loose-fitting cropped trousers. Then came fun accessories like mini purse necklaces (so cute), floral baseball caps and Walker’s big money­maker: sunglasses. They were huge, round, sometimes trans­parent, and all one color, from black to bright pink to neon yellow. In fact, they almost looked like goggles.

While Walker’s signature quirk and off-beat charm was defin­itely there, so were more refined, formal options than we’re used to and it made for a well-rounded collection with lots of things I wanted.

Karen Walker looked to the Betsy and Iris characters in “Taxi Driver” for her spring collection. So there were plenty of fluid tailored pieces (Betsy) such as an elegantly cool yellow and navy silk check-print shirt and blazer with navy silk trousers, as well as some flirta­tious looks (Iris), like a pink printed strapless jumpsuit.

The‘70s film Taxi Driver defin­itely has some memorable fashion moments (a nubile, rosy-cheeked Jodie Foster in that hat; Cybill Shepherd’s clean-cut, fresh-faced working girl vibe). New York at its seediest and most hopeful…all in one classic. But leave it to Karen Walker to take those opposing, iconic New York women and turn them into a modern collection that re-imagines quirky Americana dressing. Mixing ‘70s flaunt and ‘40s structure, the line-up featured lots of mixed big prints, nicely tailored dresses, and bright color pairings that all took her modern boy-meets-girl mojo to new heights. And while we’ve been seeing head-to-toe print dressing all over the runways for spring/summer ‘12, Karen Walker knows how to pull it off with true elan. And, P.S., don’t even get us started on the shoes. From creamy moss-colored oxfords to gold toe-capped pumps, we wanted them all.

New Zealander Karen Walker channeled The American Girl by way of the masculine, feminine dichotomy of Betsy and Iris from Scorsese classic “Taxi Driver.” Her inter­pret­ation included “a study in mixing and building with prints — checks on checks on checks meets a garden of florals.”

Working beautiful florals, polka dots and cheeky checks into ‘40s silhou­ettes, the designer lent a tomboyish quality to the bold feminine prints. Breezy but sophist­icated high-waisted trousers were paired with knits and blouses. The collection dipped back into the fairer sex’s wardrobe with flirty dress adorned with playful ruffles and paired with stacked heels. The one binding theme was the dazzling pinks, blues, greens and yellows.