We’ll just come out and say it: we love Karen Walker – her effortless style, her unpretentious vibe, her downright loveliness, all of it. Her eyewear constantly sits at the top of our must have list, and we can’t get enough of her ready to wear, it’s just the best. Needless to say that when we were given the chance to sit down with her and talk shop – we jumped for it:
GrandLife: Karen, you come to New York frequently for your New York Fashion Week shows, etc…why do you love coming back to this city?
Karen Walker: The energy, and the fact you’re right where it’s all at.
GL: Is there anything in particular about New York that inspires you? Has this directly translated to any of your collections?
KW: Yes. For American Girl (Summer 2012) we were inspired by Taxi Driver, for Liberal and Miserable (Winter 2004/2005) we were inspired by Annie Hall and for Salburg, U.S.A. (Winter 2010/2011) we were inspired by an imaginary small town in up-state New York where Sound of Music met Bob Dylan.
GL: What do you remember most about your first visit to New York?
KW: I was 18 the first time I visited New York and I’ve been back two or three times a year ever since, so too many visits to mention! My first visit was in winter and I remember being astounded by the amount of snow and the sheer cold! But I loved it.
GL: How do you spend a typical early morning in New York? And a late night?
KW: When I’m in New York it’s usually for fashion week so it’s work focused I’m afraid. Early morning’s usually prepping for the day with a little yoga practice and breakfast. Late night – to be honest, I’m usually in bed by midnight when I’m travelling for work.
GL: Who is your favorite New York Personality, and why?
KW: We’ve just worked with Ari Seth Cohen of advancedstyle.com for our 2013 eyewear campaign and we adore him and all his gorgeous ladies who modeled for us. They are pure New York.
GL: What things/experiences are still on your ‘to-do, must-see’ list of NYC?
KW: I’m in New York so often that it feels like a second home to me. Because I’m there so much and because it’s always for work I miss out on the pure joy of being a tourist so there are a lot of New York icons I’m yet to experience. I’m not yet fully explored Central Park, I’ve not been to The Met for twenty years, and I’ve still not got around to walking The Highline.
GL: Is there anything about New York that reminds you of Auckland?
KW: The neighborhood I live and work in, Ponsonby, shares a lot of similarities with Williamsburg with a bit of West Village in there too. It’s relaxed and casual but with lots of interesting shops, great cafes, bars and restaurants and sensational coffee. Plus lots of pretty 19th century homes and buildings.
GL: Your design is always very charming and cheerful – how do you keep yourself happy and relaxed, day to day?
KW: Having a five-year-old in the house certainly helps to keep everything in perspective, but in addition to that doing a job I love and getting to live in my home town but travel to all my favourite cities is great too. Plus, most importantly, an hour of yoga a day.
GL: When getting into the design-mood, what kind of music do you listen to?
KW: Usually the design room’s music-free as there’s so much going on in there. At home though there’s usually music playing and it can be anything. Of late Lawrence Arabia and Cat Power’s new albums have been played a lot.
GL: What is your favorite piece of furniture at home/in the work space?
KW: At home it’s my new outdoor day-bed on our front porch. It’s perfect for the family to have evening cuddles on. At work, I’m loving my six new Barber Osgerby Tip Ton chairs in the design room.
GL: Do you have any pets?
KW: Yes. One old cat with a saggy tummy.
Karen Walker’s signature styles can be purchased online, and at stockists world wide.