Karen Walker and her platform of ideas


We can all lay claim to a busy schedule but there is no doubt that Karen Walker trumps them all. Her eponymous label spans all categories from ready-to-wear, eyewear, jewellery, homewares and now beauty. Behind striking blue eyes, we caught up with Karen to talk style and her latest platform of ideas.

 
 

ON HER PERSONAL STYLE

I mainly wear Karen Walker. 50-70% of what’s in my wardrobe at any given time is KW. The nature of that is it does change all of the time. We are a ready-to-wear brand after all, so there are constant notes but the items do change. But I do like little elements of uniform in how I dress. I really admire people who do have a uniform. I love the idea of a signature look and try to bring that in.

A PLATFORM OF IDEAS

Fashion for me is a platform of ideas. I’m not in fashion for fashion’s sake, I’m in fashion as a way to create ideas. The fact that it ended up being fashion for me, is because my mother had a sewing machine and a box of fabric. It could have been a movie camera lying around the house! I think that’s why we’ve expanded beyond ready-to-wear as I felt that we had something to say in a lot of different areas.

THE MUSE FOR HER FRAGRANCE

I didn’t want to have the sexy eyed, dreamy girl. Our girl is still sexy but not in that direct way; she’s strong but in a fun way. We created a trio that was energetic, fun and smart. That spoke of creativity and possibilities. That’s why we created the building blocks A, B, C. You can create anything with the alphabet, it just about what you’re going to do with it.

ON WORKING WITH THE OLDEST PERFUME HOUSE IN THE WORLD

We went through six re-works of the fragrances, at one point we had around 200-300 fragrances lined up and then you edit that down. It’s all about refine, refine, refine.

I had to learn to use my sense of smell. With everything else it is visual. With visual work you can have it all pinned up on a board in-front of you and you can see it all at glance. You can rearrange it and take things off and see it immediately. With a fragrance, you’ve got to give it time, pause and really think about it before moving onto the next one. You can’t go quickly with it.

THE POWER OF FLOWERS

The perfume C has a lot of my favourite flowers in it, magnolia, gardenia, tuberose. It’s really nice that there is one that has all of them in there. I’m still figuring out how to get freesia in there… and frangipani! I haven’t quite managed to get those two in!

ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY

I’m in the fashion business but I’m not like a lot of fashion people. Being in the business for so long, you meet so many people along the way that love fashion and love the business, they love consuming and creating and working in the field of fashion like I do. Then there are the ones who just LOVE FASHION, they party and live and breathe it. I’ve never been at that end of the spectrum. I love to consume fashion and to be in fashion but I have other things as well.