Wed, 15/02/2006 - 8:30pm
On|Off, Royal Academy Burlington Gardens, W1
Girls love Karen Walker - it's a fact. And I for one will stand up and
be counted as one of them! Widely considered to be the London
equivalent of Marc Jacobs, the smiley New Zealander has perfected what
she likes to call 'high casual,' - an eclectic mixture of tailoring and
relaxed streetwear with a touch of retro. Her clothes appeal to a cool,
fashion-literate set that don't mind turning up to a party with runny
eyeliner and messy hair. High maintenance? Pah, who needs it.
Despite running over an hour late, the audience were placated with
vodka berry cocktails and mini caramel cupcakes - all received
gratefully. However, this didn't stop the fashion editor (from another
website we won't mention) beside me trying to push me out of my seat
(and I was on crutches). Sadly, the fashion industry's reputation for
being rude and intolerable was correct on this occasion.
Moving swiftly onâ€¦ Entitled 'Dough and Dynamite,' inspiration for this
collection appears to come from the 1970s via the 1920s with a
smattering of androgyny, borrowed boyfriend jumpers, school uniforms
and the great outdoors. A self-confessed workaholic, this designer does
not do small collections - meaning there are more pieces to covet.
If you are looking for an instant wardrobe update this winter, but
don't want to bankrupt yourself - invest in a beret, preferably by
Karen Walker. Hats come decorated with brooches, zips or sequins. There
are plain versions too - in vivid emerald green and orange shot with
gold lurex or grey textured bouclé.
The mood on the catwalk was kooky and cute. Blue denim is reworked into
draped shift dresses cinched at the waist with a wide leather belt
(another key trend), whilst cropped jackets, ruched-shouldered shirts
and wrap-skirts also appear finished off with a giant bow. Faded grey
denim is still going strong. This time around, the skinny silhouette
(courtesy of Kate Moss) has been replaced by looser jeans with
turn-ups. Good news for those of us who can't squeeze into a size
Walker likes to mix-up textures and colour combinations - mainly grey,
brown, orange, olive, aubergine and black. Baggy ribbed fisherman
jumpers were slung over silky evening dresses; a Teddy Boy-style
crombie was teamed with a tunic dress and leatherette leggings. For
those who enjoy dressing down there is an assortment of slouchy
cardigans, plaid shirt-dresses, sweatshirts, loose masculine trousers
and shirting. Most looks were accessorised with braces, ties and
printed skinny scarves.
And the highlight of the collection? A black silk-crepe wrap dress cut
high on the neck with a single button on one hip. Accessorised with a
jewelled beret, this oozed easy sophistication and skimmed the body
gently without being too tight. Ms Walker, we salute you...
Words: Bianca Donnelly. Photos: David Jones.