Karen Walker Launches Custom Bridal Business

by Charles Manning

Karen Walker is going bridal! The New Zealand-based designer is making her first foray into the bridal world with a curated collection of made-to-order clothing and customizable engagement rings and wedding bands called Karen Walker Atelier. The collection consists of 12 dresses and two three-piece suits priced between $950 and $3,000. Included in the cost, Atelier offers Walker’s own team to assist the bride on her journey — reviewing the styles in the range, measuring, fitting, and adjusting the dress or suit until they have achieved the perfect look.

The service also includes direct communication with Walker at the designer’s Aukland flagship. And for those clients not based in New Zealand, Walker will consult via email or phone call and work with local tailors to keep things on track. The process will generally take about six to eight weeks, but two styles will be offered for sale off-the-rack for last minute elopements to Vegas and beyond.

The Atelier jewelry collection includes 14 different styles, cast in white, yellow or rose gold. Champagne diamonds, black diamonds, peach morganite, grey moonstone, and rutilated quartz are amongst the eight different precious and semi-precious stones clients can choose from to create their own bespoke pieces. Bands begin at $1,000 and all rings are bespoke, allowing clients to create their own distinctive pieces.

The Daily caught up with Walker over email to find out more about her latest venture.

Karen Walker

What inspired you to get into the bridal business in the first place? 
For as long as I can remember, we’ve had customers asking about outfits for their wedding days — people who love our style and have it as  part of many special or important days and want to have it on their wedding day also.

Why did you decide to launch this as a custom, in-house business, as opposed to selling in bridal boutiques?
I want this to be about having a direct relationship and conversation with our clients.

Do you have a favorite dress from the collection?
Well, I love them all, but if were getting married today and have to choose one right now it’d be the Bliss Dress — I love a short dress on a bride. This has that energy and moxie and it’s beautiful but has  a sort of toughness. Also I’d have a suit: the Love Tuxedo and Devotion Trousers, because I’m never going to be the meringue bride caught a the top table.

Do you remember the first wedding you ever attended? 
I don’t remember the first wedding I went to, but every wedding has a some good, some bad and some downright hilarious. One wedding in which the celebrant asked the bride if she’d take the groom to be her lawfully married wife set the guests off into minutes of giggling that saw the whole thing have to pause for some time while we regained ourselves. Another where the head bridesmaid’s speech consisted of “Kate, you rock. Kate rocks. You just rock” on repeat for five minutes is also something I always enjoy reminiscing about.  At my brother’s wedding two of the guests had their dog with them –  a stray they’d rescued and brought back  from Cuba. The dog decided to go exploring in the grounds of the estate we were on and all the guests spent cocktail hour chasing after this mutt instead of drinking pink Champagne on the lawn. It eventually showed up and showed no remorse.

Have you designed wedding dresses before?
Only my own. And I still love it. I actually designed both my wedding outfits myself and they’re in storage somewhere in the depths of the warehouse at work. The first look was an ivory suit with a micro-mini skirt and a fitted, hip-length jacket. I even had ivory colored hair to match. That was worn as I was welcoming and hanging with guests when they arrived, then I switched into the dress, which was made of a highly textured, 3D, chunky, gutsy lace. The dress itself was fitted, with a high neckline, narrow shoulders, long, skinny sleeves and micro-mini length with the lace’s scalloping forming the hem on dress and sleeves.

If you could do your own wedding over again, what would you do differently?
I’d change everything except the dress and the guy.

What is a common mistake brides make when shopping for a wedding dress?
I have no idea. Possibly they spend too much.

What is your favorite wedding tradition?
I always enjoy noticing the first woman who takes her shoes off and the first man who unbuttons his shirt collar. It never seems to take long and it is never one of my family!

Have you ever been a bridesmaid?
Never was one and didn’t have one. Maybe I don’t have enough friends!

Why are bridesmaid dresses always so awful?
Yes, often the bridesmaids do seem to draw the short straw, don’t they?

Any plans to expand into bridesmaid dresses yourself?
It would be a natural next step, but let’s see how the brides go first!

Shop the full Karen Walker Atelier bridal collection HERE.

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