Karen Walker took us into a posh English countryside for her “Garden People” collection yesterday at Pier 59 Studios. Inspired by society gardeners who combined formality and function, the cohesive collection was full of earthy botanicals and layered silhouettes. We caught up with the menswear-bedecked designer after the show to discuss her inspiration, post-Fashion Week plans and more.
theFashionSpot: You were inspired by an “eccentric horticulturist” for spring, can you tell us about that?
Karen Walker: The photographs are by Valerie Finnis, she was a gardener and photographer in the U.K. in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and she had a Rolleiflex camera and would just go to her friends’ houses and take photos of them. Nancy Lancaster, Roald Dahl and people like that, so there was always a castle in the background and these beautiful gardens. And I loved the idea that people dressed up to go to the gardens. Our work always has a utility point of view at its heartbeat and then other things come around it, so it really allowed us to use denims and suedes and gauzes, and those sorts of hard-working fabrics — workwear fabrics — and then contrast them with crepe de chine, beautiful florals and big jewelry.
tFS: We loved the color palette today. Did that come from her photos as well?
KW: Yeah, she had that Rolleiflex color, where the mustards and yellows really pop out. Also, grass, bricks, flowers, sky…we were using all that in our palette as well. We did green nails this time and we wanted the makeup to look like there had been some exertion, so the cheeks were flushed and the lips were like a bunch of roses in all different colors.
tFS: What’s your favorite thing about Fashion Week?
KW: Seeing it all come alive. You live with it a long time, something like nine months, so seeing every element come together for the first time, to create that full look — that’s the thrill of it.
tFS: What’s your secret to making it through Fashion Week?
KW: Yoga. Plenty of me-time. Always half an hour a day where it’s just me and my yoga mat.
tFS: What are you doing post Fashion Week?
KW: I’m trying to go upstate, it’s been a while. Floating in a lake, lying in a hammock, playing a bit of Scrabble…that’s what I’m in need of.
tFS: While wearing a hat, scarf and sunglasses…
KW: Of course, of course! That scarf and hat look I’ve had in my back pocket for about 10 years, and I finally got the right collection for it. It wouldn’t work with just anything, but for a garden collection, it works.
tFS: It does! It’s our new look for next summer.