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Karen Walker Atelier

Karen Walker’s just launched bridal range is on display at her Newmarket store until August 26. After that viewings are by appointment only.

By Carolyn Enting

The unveiling of Karen Walker Atelier was a sophisticated as well as intimate affair held in the Chandelier Room at Cordis Auckland on August 14.

A stunning static display in ivory of signature Karen Walker silhouettes provided the backdrop for a special Karen Walker Atelier high tea decorated with bespoke jewellery by Karen Walker as well as edible themed-treats.

Walker and husband Mikhail Gherman have been married for 28 years and Walker said there were two things she wouldn’t change about her wedding day – “the guy, and the dress.”

“We’ve had customers ask us to make wedding dresses for years and we have always said ‘no’,” says Walker.

Last year the Walker atelier created a gown in collaboration with Cook Islands Kuki ‘Airani’ Creative Mamas that was part of a special Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition at Buckingham Palace. “Afterwards I thought, you know what ‘we can do gowns and we’re really good at this. Maybe we can do bridal.’ Our customers are asking for it and it is always good to listen to your customers. The timing just felt right,” says Walker.

So who is the Karen Walker bride? “Well I will tell you what she is not,” says Walker. “She is not the meringue bride. She is not the princess bride. And she is not sitting next to a giant wedding cake not wanting to move because she might ruin her dress. She is not wearing a corseted boned thing that traps her. She wants a dress that elevates her and releases her and allows her to be part of her day, enjoy it and be fully engaged in it. She just wants something real.”

There are 12 dresses, five suits and two off the rack dresses for those who want to elope. But all the rest are made bespoke for the bride.

“What I love is that there aren’t racks and racks of dresses sitting in a warehouse somewhere. When our customers come to see us in our ViC parlour upstairs in our Ponsonby Road (Auckland) store they will see these dresses, try them on and have a play and then if they select one, it will be made especially for them,” says Walker.

The Karen Walker team have also been experimenting with working remotely with international clients including Michelle Obama for whom they have made a tailor made suit.

The dresses are on display in the Karen Walker Newmarket store until August 26 and from then on will be in the Karen Walker VIC parlour and available by appointment only. 

Prices range from $1450 to $4250 for dresses, and the three-piece suits are $3150, $3700 and $3950. And all styles will be made in the Karen Walker workroom in Grey Lynn, Auckland.

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