Oh, to be a fly on the wall in Karen Walker's head. What does her brain get up to, when Walker is perched in her lair down in Auckland, so remote from the major fashion capitals and the topics of conversation common therein? The distance Walker keeps from the fashion throng seems to permit her to let her mind wander equally far afield; it's a safe bet that no other designers are going to be referencing lady adventurers of the Victorian era and Mary Poppins in their collections this season, just as no one else decided to mash up hip-hop and Marie Antoinette for Resort.
Anyway. You might say that the true underlying theme of Walker's latest outing was female liberation: Poppins, after all, was an independent single lady who came and went as she pleased, and the women who joined the brigade of explorers and specimen collectors at the apogee of the British Empire were likewise free of the fetters of Victorian society. Walker gave their brio a contemporary spin by emphasizing silhouettes ideal for running around in—baby-doll dresses, baggy jeans, jogging shorts, and track pants. Victoriana was woven through the looks, with pouf sleeves, natty little buttons, and high collars given particular emphasis throughout. Olive drab twill and masculine tailoring gave the collection some grounding, detailed as it was throughout with flounces and frills, while Walker's nutty but appealing monkey prints added a soupçon of traditional Brit eccentricity. Overall, Walker was hitting her usual note of youthful exuberance, but there was a nice deepening of tone here; she seemed to be imploring her female fans to do something with all that energy. Strike out for far-flung lands; make your own rules; think new ideas. It's been working for Karen Walker.
Words by Maya Singer