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Karen Walker: Mutiny

When the new world order seems to be a spiralling chasm of chaos, fashion must throw aside the old paradigms and embrace a new rebellion. This then, is Mutiny. Karen Walker’s Spring/Summer 2017 collection, a range that is driven by the times we live in now. Driven by the urge for utility, tightening the focus to narrow in on what is genuinely needed and leaving all else behind.

Making bedfellows of politics and punk in the same way that Westwood’s original buccaneers did in the eighties, Walker is reappropriating the references. Her pirate raid exploits a rich, referential treasure chest of nautical and baroque themes. Drawstrings and ruching, chiffon seersucker stripes and frills in navy and white, swashbuckler’s sleeves, heraldic prints with dandy-esque voluminous proportions are all rendered for a new era in Walker’s own unmistakable handwriting.

The fabrics, as befits a revolutionary’s wardrobe, are honest and simple. Cottons, muslins, drills and raw denim, in a wide-eyed colour palette of blush, corn flower blues and Dutch orange alongside the backbone hues of navy, white and black. At first glance, shapes are loose and starkly utilitarian, almost as if following a hardliner’s manifesto for clean lines and easy volume. But on closer inspection Walker is playing her end game on the details and her handwriting is there for those in the know: iconic arrow buttons and overstitching, wide sailor-sash belting, wide cuffs and oversized ruffles.

Keeping the rebellion underground, her statement ‘Mutiny’ print this season is also an exercise in the covert rather than the explicit. This time she is turning to German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer and his dark-hearted, apocalyptic ‘Ship of Fools’ as her central motif. A comment on the absurdity of modern politics maybe, but certainly not a reflection of how Walker runs her own tight ship. This season her very own pirate crew is deployed as the models for the campaign. From the design and production teams to patternmakers and dispatch, it’s an all-hands-on-deck attitude and proof, as if we needed it, that Walker’s quiet revolution is already here.


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