NZ fashion designer: Karen Walker

Karen Walker is New Zealand’s best known fashion designer - her designs are worn all over the world by everyone from everyday Kiwis to Hollywood stars.

Karen Walker is a New Zealand fashion designer with a high international profile.

Walker launched her career in 1989, gaining international attention in 1998 with her first runway collection at Hong Kong Fashion Week. The collection, entitled 'Daddy’s Gone Strange', featured reworked traditional men's business suits, and was picked up by Barneys in New York.

The Barneys' move saw the Karen Walker name hit the headlines when Madonna bought, then wore a pair of her ‘killer pants’ while performing at the 1998 MTV awards.

New Zealand Four

Karen Walker was part of the New Zealand Four group show at London Fashion Week in 1999 and 2000.

She became the first New Zealander to have a solo show at New York Fashion Week in September 2000.

Karen Walker style

The Karen Walker style is tailored, modern and androgynous, and emphasises cut. She often juxtaposes masculine and feminine, luxurious and ugly. Trademark accessories include overlong men's ties and pearls.

Marcus von Ackerman of Paris Vogue has said of Walker: "I greatly admired Karen Walker's refreshing, original collection. It managed to combine edgy, Gothic, sartorial wit with pure modern elegance and, above all, it was impeccably finished. It was utterly divine."


The Karen Walker label is stocked in over 250 stores throughout the world, including New York, London, Hong Kong (China), Los Angeles, Sydney and Tokyo.

Walker shows her collections each season as part of New York Fashion Week. She also has permanent showrooms in London, New York, Tokyo and Sydney. Her designs are regularly featured in the world's top fashion magazines.

Karen Walker’s success is due not only to design talent. She has marketed a package with an X-factor (something she herself possesses), and she is also media-friendly, good-looking and has made some astute business decisions.