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Karen Walker

Striking sartorial gold: Q&A with Karen Walker

Every industry has one; the prodigious talents whose comfort zones are outside of the box and for whom rules are more guideline than instruction. They’re the rebels, the misfits, the rulebreakers and the nonconformists. But equally, they’re the trendsetters, the innovators, the visionaries and the true talent. For New Zealand fashion, that’s Karen Walker.

Karen Walker

In 1989, at 19 years of age with just $100 in her pocket and two shirts in her commercial repertoire, she launched the Karen Walker label. Since then, she has steadily grown to be New Zealand’s most famous fashion export, with more than 1020 stores globally stocking her fashion, eyewear, jewellery, fragrance and paint collections, and a cult following from Lady Gaga to Madonna.
With the ability to pair neons with pastels and floral prints with military touches in a way that only a true talent can, she has struck sartorial gold with her androgynous and offbeat designs distinguishable by their punchy, tomboyish edge.
Metropol caught up with the sartorial powerhouse after a whirlwind trip to Dunedin where she was judging this year’s iD Fashion Week.

What was a standout at this year’s iD Fashion Week?
The stand-out for me, obviously, was our first prize winner, Damir Begović, but there were a lot of other collections that I thought were really excellent – I was very impressed and delighted to be there.

How important is it to you to support emerging designers coming through the industry?
I think it’s very important for anyone who’s well established in this industry to support emerging talent and iD Fashion Week’s got a great structure in place for doing this in a unique and outward-facing way.

Karen Walker has become an iconic Kiwi label, why do you think it has been such a success and how do you continue to stay ahead of the game in such a constantly evolving industry?
It all comes down to the ideas and we’re very fortunate that people like what we make. With regard to staying ahead of the game, I guess that’s just a result of us being interested in new ideas.

What drew you to fashion in the first place?
The feeling it gives you when you create or find something truly new/exciting/great.

How would you define the Karen Walker brand?
Chic meets eccentric.

You’ve been involved with some pretty cool collaborations recently, including cookie mix and cute canine accessories. How much fun has it been to do something completely different?
We’re in this business because we love to work with and create new ideas, especially ones that put a smile on people’s faces, and we’re always thinking about and working on projects that are new and exciting.

We have to ask the cliché question – what are your biggest style secrets?
A combination of lots of things really but the things that are important to me include: quality, a sense of self and a calmness within that, plenty of sleep and, for me personally, if in doubt… navy. And never, ever, ever counterfeits.

What can we look forward to from Karen Walker this coming year?
Coming up in the second half of the year we’ve got new eyewear (guys and girls), new ready-to-wear and bags and a big, exciting, top secret collab to top the year off.

Kendra Jeffery of Stolen Inspiration

From birkenstocks to balenciaga: Q&A with Kendra Jeffery of fashion blog Stolen Inspiration

New Zealand harvests the cream of the crop when it comes to fashion, but it’s also got a down-to-earth vibe that gives style the freedom to roam without rules or conventions. It’s a liberating juxtaposition that plays out oh-so-beautifully on one of NZ’s most recognised and celebrated fashion blogs, Stolen Inspiration, narrated by Kendra Jeffery. Metropol talks to Kendra about her blue-chip blog status and a wild ride.

Kendra Jeffery of Stolen Inspiration

You’ve commanded a significant following with your fashion blog, how do you curate content that appeals to a diverse audience?

I try to make content that I’d like to see and read myself. I think this appeals to a variety of different people because it’s authentic and people appreciate that – especially now that blogging has become so lucrative. Being open and honest with my readers is always my number one policy.

Tell us about the launch of your YouTube channel. How did you decide on this as an additional platform?

Diving into YouTube has been a natural progression from my blog and the content I create for it. I’ve really enjoyed being able to show my readers another side of my life and personality through videos – something I feel static blog posts can lack. It’s also a lot of fun creatively to challenge myself in a different way.

What do you think is original about NZ fashion compared with the rest of the world?

There’s a lot more experimentation rather than sticking to a particular style in NZ. If you want to dress fancy one day but in Birkenstocks and jeans the next, no one would give it a second thought. We get the best of both worlds, because we are loyal to our laid-back nature but aren’t afraid to try new trends and make them our own.

What have been some of your most breathtaking moments on this creative journey?

There have been so many, but most memorable was my trip to NYC. Being recognised for your creativity and flown there to explore it was unreal. Never in a million years would I have thought such an unbelievable opportunity could come from my 15-year-old self making a little internet blog when she was bored.

American Express Openair Cinema

Events guide: Five things well worth leaving home for

The temperatures may have begun their downward descent, but that doesn’t mean it’s time to lock yourselves inside! We’ve gone in search of some of the hottest events around that will be sure to bring some warmth to your autumn.

American Express Openair Cinema
American Express Openair Cinema

Food, fun and flicks:

American Express is bringing the Openair Cinema festival of food, fun and flicks to Rauora Park from 15 March to 1 April.
There will be an array of alternative entertainment, live music and DJ performances before the latest and greatest feature films light up the big screen.
Better yet, you can bring along a ‘Doggy Date’! Pampered pooches will receive the VID treatment with a pawfect picnic platter of doggy delights and their own canine couch. Tickets start at $13 and are on-sale now at www.openaircinemas.co.nz.

Jump for charity:

Some of the country’s leading horse and pony riders are getting in behind the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation with the second annual Jump for Cancer Hagley charity event at North Hagley Park on 25 March.
St. Margaret’s College students will be collecting donations on behalf of the New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation and food vendors will be selling everything from coffee and gelato to gourmet pizzas and potatoes.
General admission is free with VIP tickets available from www.eventbrite.co.nz. To find out more, head to the Jump for Cancer Hagley Facebook page.

Middle-aged man in lycra!

Following a sell-out premiere season across New Zealand, much-loved Kiwi actor Mark Hadlow remounts for a final ride into Christchurch in the acclaimed one man show, MAMIL (middle-aged man in Lycra), in all its lurid lycra glory for ‘Le Tour d’Isaac’, from Thursday 31 May to Saturday 2 June at the Isaac Theatre Royal.
Shining as the affable, yet uncomfortably relatable anti-hero in the one-man show, Hadlow commands the stage. With his energetic presence and childlike enthusiasm to the character, he breathes life into the cleverly crafted monologues to delight even the most stoic of MAMIL-phobes.

Colourful fun :

All the colour and fun of a carnival is coming to Cathedral Square on Saturday 24 February.
The popular Latino market is heading into the city from 4pm to 8pm on so you can enjoy a delicious culinary collection of Latin street food, live music, art and craft and, of course, the warmth of the local Latin community.
There will also be workshops, a dance floor and performances with Latin rhythms (including capoeira and samba do Brasil). So bring your most colourful clothing – and your dancing shoes – and prepare for a night of colourful fun.

A catwalk crusade:

Designers and celebrities are set to hit the catwalk on Thursday 12 April wearing the latest New Zealand fashion.
Guests at the annual M Factor Fashion Show will see collections from the likes of Annah Stretton, Augustine, Repertoire, Trelise Cooper and many more to raise funds for Ronald McDonald House Charities New Zealand and Ronald McDonald House South Island.
Held at 7pm on Thursday 12 April at The Transitional Cathedral, tickets are available at ticketmaster.co.nz and are priced at $75 for VIP, $55 for General Admission and $20 for children and students.