NYFW: Karen Walker’s Cool Clothes for Modern Renegades

The revolution will not be Tweeted.


Feminism as fashionable (and the desirability of it being so) has been a hot topic in recent months. Karen Walker brought it up again at Pier 59 Studios yesterday, though this time without any discussion of pubic hair or Beyoncé’s last album. Instead Walker was inspired by Suffragettes, translating their utilitarian dress code and renegade vibes into subversive clothes for cool girls.

Mannish tailoring has always been something Walker does well. Here she showed off her skill with boxy grey suiting, tunics, and working coats particularly sure to strike a note with her front row. Stylish millennials Cory Kennedy, Leandra Medine and Hanneli Mustaparta were all sitting there serving up intense coat envy. Though we can also see many of the pieces in the wardrobe of Ilona Smithkin, the 93-year-old Advance Style icon who was ushered past us wearing two of Walker’s longtime favorite shades — juicy orange and electric blue.

Elsewhere the women’s lib metaphors were less subtle. Hands and hammers covered silk devoré dresses, and slogans summed up the attitude. “Hello and Goodbye,” “Faster Better Stronger,” and “Liberal and Miserable” were emblazoned across sweaters and handbags. Karen Walker has making that last declaration long before feminism was “this season’s hottest accessory,” showing her original “Liberal and Miserable” collection at London Fashion Week exactly one decade ago.

We also need to have a serious discussion about these accessories. Satchels in assorted shapes were designed by New Zealand-born, Australian-based accessories champ Brenda Briand of Benah, while Beau Coops outfitted the models’ feet in chunky heeled loafers with pragmatic rubber soles. Those would have come in handy for traversing the icy sidewalks flanking 11th Avenue.

The revolution might not be televised — or, rather, Tweeted — but there’s nothing wrong with heightened awareness. Fellow Kiwi and world’s most precocious teenager Lorde would surely agree.

Related links:
NYFW: Zimmermann Fall 2014
NYFW: Mathieu Mirano Fall 2014
NYFW: VFiles Fall 2014

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