Karen Walker Spring 2011 at New York Fashion Week

I wasn’t having a very Perfect Day when I arrived at the Exit Art gallery for Karen Walker’s Spring show this morning. Fashion Week begins to take its toll after around day five when you’ve had minimal sleep, minimal food, and maximum pain inflicted by uncomfortable shoes. However my mood was instantly lifted when Karen’s models hit the runway sporting vividly idyllic looks that drew on elements of an ordinary day, including washing day clothespin, living room curtain florals and automobile details.

The show was signature Karen, which meant that not only were there ruffles, bucket hats and whimsical prints, but that it was deeply invested with the designer’s offbeat sense of humour and ability to subvert classics that keeps her collections constantly fresh and modern. Sometimes it was obvious (an “I love New York” t-shirt with the print flipped upside down), and sometimes more subtle.

Inspired by the photography of William Eggleston, who has a knack for finding vitality and optimism in the most banal of scenes, Karen sought to make the mundane extraordinary. Wooden clothes pegs were appointed this collection’s must-have print, complementing curtain florals which were turned into whimsical tapered silk trousers. Utilitarian loafers were given a vibrant burst of colour, making me wish I had a similar pair on my own swollen feet. Delicate and brightly coloured ruffles found their way on to hats, bags, dresses and coats in way that was overtly feminine and quirky but completely chic.

On leaving the gallery I felt as energised by Karen as she was by William Eggleston. Walking past the same photographers who I had cowered from earlier when hobbling inside, this time I was more inviting when they asked where I was from: “NEW ZEALAND!”

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*Images courtesy of www.fashionologie.com

Article by Hannah Ongley

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