Onwards and Upwards is the title of Karen Walker’s latest collection, a sporting reference to this season’s inspiration—the game of chess, where pawns must move forward—and her own personal brand of brimming optimism. The thoughtful positivity that informs her work always results in a pleasant lineup, made for the same sort of intellectual gamine who doesn’t take things too seriously (just the right amount).
Walker honed in on two female chess legends: Sonja Graf, a German chess master of the ’30s who played in bookish pantsuits, and Lisa Lane, a ’60s bombshell remembered as the sport’s glamour girl in more soigné collared shirts. Together, they formed the perfect jumping-off point for Walker’s continued toying and twisting of historically masculine and feminine dress codes. A super-slouchy walnut-color suit was a highlight, so was the very simple proposition of a slate gray cashmere turtleneck tucked into crisp suit pants, cropped like high waters.
Details were intentionally focused from the neck up (think: ruffled and pointed collars), as Walker envisioned the wearer seated at a chess table. A selection of frothier black tulle items featured sculptural volume around the neck and shoulders, as well, to resemble the curves of the queen or a bishop, as readily as the Eames stools scattered on set recalled headless pawns.