September 08, 2006
After eight seasons in London, well-traveled New Zealander Karen Walker is ready for new frontiers. The UK capital's loss was New York's gain as she showed a spring collection that was long on the skewed charm that's her signature. She claimed inspiration from Land Girls (the women who worked the farms in England while their menfolk were away at the front during World War II) and there were discernible echoes of the forties in the floral prints, puff sleeves and baggy pants. But Walker's real focus, as always, was on the hybrid of female and male. It's that fashion clich┐ about the woman who slips into her boyfriend's clothes in the morning, except in Walker's capable hands, it feels fresh and slightly subversive.
In this collection, for instance, floral bloomers were worn with a pinstriped waistcoat, an organza dress was topped by a net T-shirt, and neon nylon parkas added a mod boy element. The look is sexy with a coolly ambiguous twist, and it's easy to see why Walker has galvanized a stellar clientele of young Hollywoodites. If the show occasionally played like Karen's Greatest Bits for people who know about her, it was a smart way to introduce her work to those who don't.