Being a new girl at an all-girls’-school was where I met Karen: last name Walker, and of the fashion persuasion. Five years of high schooling opened my eyes to the world of Walker, as I was literally going to school in it: ‘Karen Walker’s School for Young Ladies’ would have us aptly named. As the years went on, the amount of mini bow earrings, love heart rings and daisy diamante bracelets amongst us almost outshone our academic scores. By our last day of high school, we had enough silver to fashion a life-size Runaway Girl monument and enough KW tees and jerseys for her to wear a different outfit every day of the year.
For my 18th birthday, my sister bought me a silver Karen Walker rabbit ring and I finally joined the club. After a year of living life glued to my finger, I took the ring off on a hot summer’s day to apply some sunscreen, thinking I’d better be sun-smart than sorrily, stupidly sunburnt. That day, I lost my one and only Karen Walker along with my high school leaver’s ring, and was rather sorry, feeling stupid, but thankfully not sunburnt. In some way, it was pretty symbolic: Karen left my life alongside the way she came. Later on, I managed to source a ‘vintage’ KW tee that I’d always wanted, but surrendered it to my friend as it looked so much better on her. When my sister moved to London she left behind her KW charm necklace and after wearing it a few times, it broke. Safe to say, Karen and I only had misfortune written in our stars, #justnotmeanttobe.
Although I have been very unlucky with keeping hold of Karen, I’ve been a fan since we first met. Obviously, I’m a window shopper (not by choice but student budget), but who doesn’t love her signature Runaway Girl, superfine silver and oversized sunnies? She made the sweatshirt cute and covetable, she cuts a killer coat and puppies rock her sunnies (oh and some A-list celebs and models I think). In short, she’s a genius and knows how to hit our hearts hard each season.
So when I put together my outfit, made my way to The Golden Dawn and presented my ticket for Karen Walker at The Marr Factory, I was excited, but I felt a bit like an imposter too. I was all dressed up for a Karen Walker show and not a piece of anything on me was a Karen Walker.
Once in, I was handed a goodie bag, I picked up a custom cocktail, snapped an Insta (#tomakesureithappened) and sussed out a place in the already-overflowing venue. My date and I scored an ultimate people-watching position and killed the hour’s wait happily stalking. Walker’s signature prints passed us at an average rate of ten per minute, displaying everything across her archives to her new line. And let me remind you, the show hadn’t even started yet. In that time, I had a flashback to when I was 13 years old, fresh-faced and bare-necked while the still unfamiliar K.W. initials were already branding the back of my classmate’s necks.
The show (finally) began and in those 15 minutes everyone in that room was wishing they were either a) the effortlessly cool model, b) Karen Walker herself or c) financially and extravagantly able to buy all the looks, accessories included. I lapped up the display of colour, pattern, print and texture and (mentally) picked out a few pieces to add to my (non-existent) collection. Almost, just almost, did I reach out my hand to touch the billowing skirt paired with the chunky, very ‘That 70’s Show’ knit. As you can see, the whole set up was very casual and cosy.
With the new collection aptly named Time Machine, the whole night resurfaced many memories of my unfortunate past with Karen Walker. Now that I hold a yo-pro status and I’m living out a new chapter, I think I could be ready to welcome Karen back into my life. The wee voucher in the goodie bag, the Universe dress and that League necklace is a bit of a nudge, too.
So that’s the history of Karen and me! Who else has had a topsy-turvy relationship with a brand? Who else went to a show at the 2015 The Marr Factory?