Take Note: Karen Walker

When you hear the name Karen Walker, you might think of the sharp-witted, pill-popping character on Will & Grace, but it's time to introduce yourself to a different Karen Walker, whose name is spreading through the fashion world like wildfire. Walker is a New Zealand designer who brings street wear to a couture-quality level. Her fashions are simultaneously hip and whimsical, without being contrived. Walker has quietly become one of the most acclaimed designers of the new century, being regularly featured in both hip and stalwart fashion rags alike, such as Nylon and Vogue. In 2007, she was awarded the Prix de Marie Claire award for best creative talent, which is quite the feat for a girl who started her career at the age of 18 with $100 in her pocket and zero technical training. She debuted her collection in 1998 in Sydney, moved to London, and finally New York, where she has shown her collections for the past four years.

Walker has also expanded her brand from apparel to jewelry and eyewear, the latter of which has proven to be wildly popular and continually sells out. This is no doubt fueled by her celebrity fan club, which includes Drew Barrymore, Madonna, Liv Tyler, Cate Blanchett, Sienna Miller, and Kate Winslet (who wore Walker's clothing in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind). Despite the glitz of Hollywood adoration, Walker's style is tinged by the hip edge of street and rock culture, as evidenced by her onetime runway model, Theodora Richards (of The Rolling Stones' Richards). Her spring 2008 collection played with prints (which are designed by her husband), textures, and proportions, all in pleasant hues of peach, sage, and blue gray. While you can always find select Walker styles at Elizabeth Charles, a boutique in New York that sells its wares online, New Yorkers are currently treated to the entire collection at The Den, a temporary fashion pop up store in the East Village. The store is designed to give emerging talent the opportunity to sell their goods in a boutique, and every few months a different designer is featured. Therefore, in a short while, Karen Walker will be gone from The Den, and New Yorkers will have to hit the internet, like the rest of the country, to find her merchandise. The aforementioned Elizabeth Charles has the most extensive collection, while YOOX has a fair share of offerings. Le Train Bleu and Gargyle.com upstage them both however by offering the cult-worthy sunglasses in several different styles. But, if you're willing to pay the shipping fees, you can also order a couple of sunglass styles from the Australian store, Pompidou, in colors we didn't find elsewhere (TV Eyes Green and Deep Freeze Blue).

Karen Walker is in a brilliant stage in her career, where her designs are revered but not widespread, allowing us to sport her styles without looking like everyone else.

-- Lindsay Sakraida

DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).


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