"Did you know," asked Karen Walker
after her show, "that New Zealand was the first country to give women the vote?" Up with New Zealand! And up with agitation! Walker's latest collection, a tribute to the suffragettes of yore, was one of her best, full of upbeat, easygoing looks with an undercurrent of real toughness. There was lots here to like, much of it in the classic Karen Walker vein—the cropped balloon pants, for instance, or a peacoat in a needlepoint rose print. But the most interesting looks found Walker entering terra incognita: If this wasn't the first collection in which she's used black, it was one of the few, and her graphic (and rather confrontational) hand, hammer, and broken-heart print was a recurring highlight of this show. Walker also used the pattern in a maxi dress of deep red burnout velvets—another atypical look that proved a standout. The designer did well, too, with her blouses and full skirts, which hinted at Victoriana without driving the point home, or for that matter, feeling particularly "vintage" at all. Perhaps the cleverest homage paid to the suffragettes, though, was found in the accessories. As Walker explained backstage, she was interested in the ways the women had turned whatever they had at hand into a prop for their causeórestamping pence coins, making their bags into placards, and so on. Taking her cue from that, she turned out bags emblazoned with phrases such as "Liberal, Miserable & Cynical." A rallying call for our time.