Hi there, Karen Walker!
Karen Walker and Mary Devine
The re-opening of the Contemporary Lounge in Ballantynes has been fantastic for Christchurch, and has provided an opportunity for this famous store to practice retail in a completely new way.
Ballantynes has been transformed into a place to celebrate fashion and beauty by putting on events for its customers such as the ‘Fashion Focus’ series earlier this year.
Fashion Focus, which celebrated New Zealand designers, gave customers the opportunity to meet their favourite designers, shop the new collections, and enjoy some nibbles and drinks with other fashion-minded people.
I was fortunate enough to go along to the Karen Walker event, and was star-struck in the presence of arguably the Queen of New Zealand designers who was there perfecting “appearing cool, but not trying-too-hard”, as described by The Independent UK.
Karen Walker Sunglasses have become a favourite
of fashion-forward celebrities
The importance of innovation was one of the key things I took away from listening to Karen as she discussed the many different branches of Karen Walker and its diffusion lines – including the now decade-old Karen Walker Jewellery range.
This innovation was also evidenced in the travelling eyewear bar the Contemporary Lounge was temporarily home to – with the bar itself highlighting the “bigger, bolder, chunkier” sunglasses theme that has become a favourite of fashion-forward celebrities such as Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, and many more.
I also had a chance to chat privately with Karen, and she shared with why she was so adamant about returning to Christchurch. She said residents were now “emotionally ready”, and had recognised that her return was important for everybody – “there’s a lot of optimism here at the moment…it’s the right time to go forward”.
FashioNZ Contributor Anny Ma catches a private
moment with Karen Walker
Karen also said the current Karen Walker collection remembered the ladies of the 1950s, and like then was also optimistic, looking to the future – as we can see in the spaceships, stars, sky, and planet prints we’ve all come to recognise and covet as Karen Walker. For me, the collection sums up Christchurch’s current situation perfectly – we must pay homage to the past and respect our heritage, all the while being optimistic about a fresh, new future full of innovation and creativity, where the sky (or space) is the limit.
I posed this comparison to Karen, and she completely agreed, adding that now is the perfect time for fashion to be in Christchurch: “Now’s the time to be here and make your mark,” she said enthusiastically. She also said Ballantynes was a great fashion environment, emblematic and iconic for Christchurch as well as being a symbol of the rebuild progress.
The return of Karen Walker to Christchurch is certainly momentous, and a commitment by all of the New Zealand designers involved in Fashion Focus speaks volumes about Christchurch’s future and place on the fashion map. It is refreshing to see such a different approach to retail.
For more information on such upcoming events at Ballantynes and the Contemporary Lounge, make sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page or sign up to their mailing list.
By Anny Ma
Imagery - Dave Richards