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God is in Karen's Walker's Northern Soul-inflected Details

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Photo credit: Getty Images

If there are two things we love about a Karen Walker show—well, to be perfectly honest, there are a lot more than two things we love about most things relating back to Karen Walker—it's attention to detail and her always in-depth statement on inspiration and mood. That inspiration information was waiting for us when we sat down to the designer's Fall/Winter '11 show yesterday morning at Exit Art—and we devoured it.

The collection is, as always, inspired by outsider culture. This time around: The badge-wearing Northern Soul kids of industrial England circa 30 years ago. One-inch pins and rusted out scooters and Baracuta jackets and 78s and, of course, Dexy's Midnight Runners—an early '80s soul-inflected pop band who remains most famous for wearing overalls in their break-out video for "Come On Eileen" (just reading that sentence got the song stuck in your head, right?)

Rather fittingly, the runway show's soundtrack featured a fair dose of the band; and it naturally worked perfectly with the clothes. Picture the audience at an early Dexy's Midnight Runners show—maybe in Manchester. It's the late '70s or early '80s, the dudes are all mod-cum-skinhead (aesthetically, not politically—at least hopefully), they listen to Nuggets-style garage rock and practically forgotten soul-on-vinyl. The girls are wearing patched up '60s party dresses found in a chest in someone's attic; plus thrift shop menswear. There's leather and wool and mixed prints and a bit of garish color. It's street and it's oh-so-hip but it's charming—a fair dosage of leatherette-trimmed separates, badge-printed (or embellished) fabrics, cabbage roses—but they're on black, pre-revolution '60s cuts, orange tartans, patch-pockets. It was awesome.

But back to that other thing we love about Karen Walker: Those details. A gorgeous embossed-leather doctor's bag; marigold yellow silk linings in overcoats; embroidered-on faux-vintage band and record label badges embellishing an otherwise ordinary dress; contrasting pockets and trims; the socks; the skullcaps; the fabulous, fantastic Karen Walker sunglasses (the new ones look awesome, we already want them).

A single gripe: Still no menswear.
· All Fashion Week Coverage [Racked]
· Karen Walker [Official Site]