As Said By, Reference


This entry posted on February 14th, 2012

Karen Walker was defin­itely the envy of New York fashion week today: As the designer explained before her show this afternoon, she’d wrapped up prepar­a­tions a day early, and treated herself to ten — yes, ten — hours of sleep. That’s the kind of rest pretty much every other designer dreams about, or would if they ever had the chance to go to bed.

Walker’s relaxed pre-show state speaks to more than the fact that she lucked into a fashion week lie-in, however. As the collection she showed today proved, yet again, Karen Walker is a designer entirely at ease with her brand; season after season, she settles into its slightly offbeat, sweet tomboy idiom like it’s an old pair of slippers. This season, bouncing way off the Jules Verne novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , she added grace notes of bourgeois Victoriana and Brian Jones-esque peacock mod to her signature look.

In practice, the Victoriana trans­lated into ruffled collars and trim naval notes of natty wool bouclé and gold hardware; and a fair amount of gold fabric. Boxy coats and jackets in a gold wool-blend material with a black undertone were partic­u­larly good, as were the pieces in a brighter gold wallpaper flock. The mod end of the spectrum was capably repres­ented by A-line dresses, paisley prints, and Chelsea boots. Fuzzy sweaters and Walker-signature boyish trousers in yellow and orangy red gave the whole thing a modern pop. It was an eclectic mix of ideas, but Walker tied them together seamlessly.

The front-row at yesterday afternoon’s Karen Walker show was what style photo­grapher dreams are made of: the slew of it-girls, all of whom double as DJs, included Ilirjana Alushaj, Becka Diamond, Cory Kennedy, and Chelsea Leyland. And in the middle of them all sat Natalia Kills, Interscope’s hot new artist, absolutely killing it in a Christopher Kane dress paired with Karen Walker shades.

It’s those shades that have turned Walker into a household name (New York’s house­holds, at least). “When we first started doing the sunglasses, the rule we said to ourselves was ‘Nothing commercial,’” the designer told us backstage after the show, her 20th stateside. “We didn’t want to do ‘Oh, here’s the two press pieces and here’s the rest that are just dull.’ I think that’s how a lot of eye-brands are. But for us, we said, ‘If there’s twenty pieces in a collection, every piece has to be ‘Wow!’ And hopefully that’s what we achieve. But something’s working, because they’re popular!” she laughed.

Still living in Auckland, New Zealand, Walker admits to bringing some elements of her hometown to her work. “I guess what informs our work from where we live is the casual nature of life there. It’s not red carpet. It’s a totally different vibe from Paris or New York; there’s very much a casualness under­lying it all. There’s still an awareness of aesthetics and a desire to look good, but it’s kind of always under­pinned with a casual undertone. Even when it’s quite formal, it’s still a boot instead of a heel.” It’s working for Walker, who described the collection in five words: “Captain Nemo Meets Brian Jones.”

Post-show, Kills shyly intro­duced herself to Walker, confessing that she’s a fan. The compliment went both ways. ” I saw your video and I absolutely loved it,” Walker told Kills. “It came on my Google search — I woke up at 6:30 in the morning!” said Walker.

I’m blushing!” squealed Kills behind her massive Walker glasses. Now we’re not-so-patiently awaiting news of a collab­or­ation…

Karen Walker enriched her usual cool and quirky clothes with a Victorian-age roman­ticism, showing ruffled necklines and hems on jackets and skirts before going for a more Mod feel via short dresses in vibrant colors and oversize paisley prints that made for an upbeat collection.