As Said By

The Believers

This entry posted on January 11th, 2010

It’s always fun to hear Karen Walker’s free associ­ations on the season. Spring’s blithely hopscotched from the Yearning for Zion Ranch (the Texas polygamist compound that was in the news this spring) to voodoo to baptismal dresses to the trippy seventies cult film Holy Mountain-all of this tied together by a rhapsody of blue.

From the old-time prairie look of Warren Jeffs’ disciples she borrowed a certain high-collared austerity: buttoned-up shirting in classic oxford cloth, sheer pastel poplins, a quirky chicken print, and a lovely China-print silk voile. There were cuffed and cropped trousers and even a terrific pair of groovy wide-leg jeans. She worked the talis­manic motifs of ram’s heads and spiders into wearable printed-silk dresses and several highly covetable superfine T-shirts. Despite the general boyishness-one highlight being an adorable, boxy royal-blue shorts suit– she also provided a touch of glam, via chic L.N.D.s (little navy dresses; act like you know) and a peachy leopard print that was a perfect wild take on her culty cocktail frocks.

The boyfriend’s back for Karen Walker, who showed oversized blazers and tees with a men’s wear bent paired with feminine favorites like mini shorts in a well-rounded lineup.

Preppy-lite at Karen Walker

As if in prepar­ation for the torrential downpour happening outside, Karen Walker served up some of the season’s hippest and most wearable separates — perfect for both sunny spring day, or in this case, a late summer rain shower.

New Zealand-based Walker can take perfectly serviceable (dare we say mundane) wardrobe staples — here it was cotton shorts, the short-sleeved blouse, the trench — and tweak and embellish the designs just enough to turn them into covetable must-haves.

A cotton trench gets cropped just below the belt line, its sleeves widened and then loosely rolled making it both serviceable and fashion forward chic whether worn over a pencil skirt and tank or t-shirt and jeans. The addition of a twist in the fabric across the base of the models neck turns a navy, cap-sleeved dress from secretary safe to seductive.

Bermuda shorts were wide and sported a two-inch cuff. Blouses came loose, often decorated in a graphic print. Jersey tees were overlaid with delicate lace. Walker’s one-buttoned blazers fit snugly at the shoulder then fall away from the body giving the jacket a boxy, boyish lean.

Walker told WWD that her inspir­ation this season was religious cults. Whether she was being literal — the spare silhou­ettes certainly had a restrained quality — or tongue in cheek, she delivered a collection that will answers the prayers of many a fashion-weary shopper come spring.

One might measure a designer’s success by the number of chichi stores that sell their clothes, or the number of celebs that sport their garb, or how much dough a dress will set you back. But au contraire, I say, a designer’s popularity can truly be measured by the number of fashion folk who come to your show while Tropical Storm Hanna dumps loads of rain on New York City. As I walked up the street in Chelsea yesterday, clenching my umbrella (which was no shield from the diagonal rain pelting me), I saw a line three blocks long of people waiting to get into the Karen Walker show. Fashionistas and downtown hipsters teetered on four-inch heels (in the pouring rain), waiting to get into the show.
That, my friends, is dedication.

The New Zealand designer showed a collection of menswear-inspired ensembles paired with super­femme lace dresses and oddly colored leopard-print getups. It sounds random, but for some reason, it worked.
It was an organic-looking collection of mostly white, khaki, and gray knits and linen. She paired oversize blazers with unique eques­trian necklaces made from rope. Every season Walker creates a collection of wearable clothes that still have a person­ality, and this one didn’t disap­point.

Karen Walker played with notions of modesty, with loose-fit voile tunic dresses and boxy pleated blouses that took cues from Mormon dress and cultish uniformity. “The initial inspir­ation was the Texas polygamous cult that was in the news about five months ago. We just wanted to create our own sort of cult, with a religious commune sort of mood — sort of charis­matic cult leaders,” Walker told WGSN.Boyish button-down chambray shirts and rolled-up khaki trousers had a simple, all-American feel, with some Walker whimsy from a chunky rope-tie necklace.

Decorative frills finished the subtly bohemian, cropped bell sleeves on a virgin white cotton burnout dress, topped by an oversized straw hat, and a keyhole neckline added intrigue. Crisp Bermuda shorts worn under a wide-cut blouse with precisely tiered pleats seemed to tease the idea of measured modesty, as did a pyjama-style jacket clean cut above an icy short-short. A delicate spider-web pattern, bright across a grey cotton T-shirt, offered a sense of quirky contra­diction, and a folksy rooster print added a touch of rural charm. Particularly special was the leopard-print silk taffeta — a feminine twist in a sunny apricot walking short or mint-coloured wide-cut coat.

With celebrity fans like Sienna Miller, Cate Blanchett and Madonna, it’s an homage to Karen Walker’s skill set that youthful and uplifting designs can translate to any age — and for spring/summer 2009, the New Zealand-born designer is executing youth­fulness with men’s tailoring.

Boxy shorts and ice grey cotton linen trousers could be easily paired with a refreshing take on animal prints; the leopard, in a combin­ation of mint green, brown and turquoise, undoubtedly will end up on the pages of Teen Vogue with skinny jeans and converse come May.

Ruffles were done right as Walker took silk, taffeta and frills, and did it her way. Throw her oversized masculine blazer over the feminine white silk floral burnout dress and you have your look for spring.

It’s dressing made easy — and you can trust that you’ll look good.

The New Zealand-born designer is known for her origin­ality and effortless style. For Spring 2009, she paired floral prints and ruffled blouses with boxy menswear pieces. The look was hip and relaxed-perfect for her stylish fanbase.

She’s tried-and-true quirky” says Elle’s Kate Lanphear. “Free-spirited, fun and always full of great surprises. There’s never just a little black dress.” Blazers were blatantly oversized, button-downs were pleated, dresses were floppy and anti-sexy, and shorts pajama-esque. Even the Keds had a black-cap toe messily painted on.

Thankfully, the skies hadn’t quite opened yet preceding the start of Karen Walker’s much-awaited spring/summer collection. And despite the darkening sky-and a mad crush of attendees piling into the tiny entryway to avoid the drizzle-the show inside the Altman Building was sunny, light, and totally relaxed. So much of the collection, titled “The Believers,” recalled sleepy, easy night-time pieces, like light-as-air nightgown-esque dresses and silky pajama short sets. However, Walker managed to make sure even the most generous of mini-gowns and Bermuda shorts had plenty of shape and defin­ition. Things we wanted…bad: The chambray separates, especially the cropped pleated trousers, a dreamy blue ruffled mini-dress, a quirky yet sublime skinny checkered suit, and a perfect cropped trench that made us wish we could be wearing it when we left the building.

For S/S 09, the Karen Walker girl; inter­na­tional, always cool, eccentric, defiantly original and feminine took a walk on the wild side in leopard printed dresses and shirts printed with rams heads and spiders. Drawing from a range of refer­ences, Karen mixed it all up master­fully to come up with another winning collection, equal parts sweet, groovy and modern.

We believe! Inspired by the American prairie, Karen Walker’s Spring ’09 present­ation on Saturday titled “The Believers” was proof that god is in the details, as simple menswear-inspired silhou­ettes embel­lished with beautiful bleached-out animal prints, delicate lace and tartan ruled the runway. Put these covetable pieces on a crop of super cool girls like Hyoni Kang, Iekeliene Stange and Lisa Cant, and I’d swear I was in fashion heaven.