NYFW: Inside Karen Walker’s Secret Garden


Gardens have been a popular theme this Fashion Week, but Karen Walker’s models are not in the expected garden party dress code. Her models wear dungarees, pinafores and potter’s jackets; gingham and pictures of burning gazebos; denim and suede. Self-described as “high casual,” the brand eschews pretentiousness — the Karen Walker girl knows how to wrestle with her plants, not just look pretty amongst them.

Walker cites the post-World War II gardening culture of Britain as her influence, specifically the unapologetic society gardeners who, like Walker’s designs, combined formality and function: flamboyantly printed scarves underneath hats and, if they could, Walker’s signature sunglasses (just try to find a celebrity that hasn’t been spotted in one of them).

The attendees of her show seem to be wholeheartedly on board with Walker’s eccentric-bordering-on-cute aesthetic. I spotted a girl in a black jumpsuit covered in white lipstick symbols, and on top of that a white jacket covered in pink lipstick symbols.

Walker’s models were, too, all about the layers — usually a plain or tightly-patterned jacket over a wild botanicals. My favorite was a white suede top with proto-abstract expressionist swipes of lavender and moss, worn with patch knee jeans and a thin turtleneck scarf. Also worth noting: a trench with terracotta rain coating that captured the flashing lights of photographers’ cameras in a subtle, subdued sheen.