Four days in Los Angeles is all in a week’s work for Karen Walker

Fashion Quarterly - - Inside -

Karen Walker takes us on a whirl­wind work trip

There’s never a dull mo­ment in the life of New Zealand fash­ion pow­er­house, Karen Walker. We take a peek at her di­ary to find out how much she can fit into one whirl­wind, Los Angeles, work trip.


1.30pm: I land at LAX to per­fect blue sky, a tem­per­a­ture of 30°C and not a hint of smog – heaven af­ter two months of what feels like a par­tic­u­larly nasty Auck­land win­ter.

3pm: Ar­rive at Sun­set Tower Ho­tel – one of my top three in LA (along­side Chateau Mar­mont and Mon­drian). When the Sun­set Tower Ho­tel was an apart­ment block, it was home to ev­ery­one from Clark Gable and Greta Garbo, to Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe and Frank Si­na­tra. That old-school Hol­ly­wood glam­our is hard to beat. First up is a cup of tea with a friend in The Tower Bar, which I love for its pure Hol­ly­wood vibe – no cam­eras al­lowed.

5pm: Mas­sage time. The spa at the ho­tel (which used to be John Wayne’s apart­ment, FYI) is sen­sa­tional. The masseur treats me to a heav­enly mas­sage cock­tail he’s in­vented – part-shi­atsu, part-Swedish, part-phys­io­ther­apy. I’m dazed and con­fused at the end of it but would go back for more in a heart­beat.

6pm: My hus­band, Mikhail, ar­rives from Auck­land and we have a snack in The Tower Bar. I just can’t get enough of that LA view, stretch­ing out for­ever.

7pm: The tem­per­a­ture has dropped to 25°C, mak­ing it safe to head out for an evening walk. We cross Sun­set Boule­vard, head up past the Chateau, and into the twist­ing lit­tle lanes that snake up the Hol­ly­wood Hills. The traf­fic noise im­me­di­ately dis­ap­pears, the air cools slightly, hum­ming­birds ap­pear, and we en­joy wan­der­ing up the steep slopes look­ing at the real es­tate and views across town.

8.30pm: Bed and a book (a Hem­ing­way I’ve not read be­fore) in prepa­ra­tion for to­mor­row’s 5am wake-up call.


5am: It’s mid­night at home but there’s no deny­ing the alarm. A quick swim is fol­lowed by a room ser­vice smoothie and grape­fruit.

6am: We leave for the shoot, which is at our makeup artist’s home in Beach­wood Canyon in the Hol­ly­wood Hills. The Hol­ly­wood sign is just around the cor­ner and the pri­vate cul-de-sac is green, lush and has no traf­fic sounds – just the plinkity-plonk of the foun­tains, which ev­ery home here seems to have.

7.30am: Shoot­ing be­gins. It’s an eye­wear cam­paign for some small, col­lab­o­ra­tive ranges we’re about to re­lease, and as we work in the gar­den, the morn­ing sun bounces off the frames. Perfection.

11.45am: It’s a wrap! I check the neigh­bour­hood book swap on the way to lunch around the cor­ner. There are lots of self-help books (of course!), but I’m drawn to two P. G. Wode­houses I haven’t read.

12pm: Lunch with our cre­ative di­rec­tor and makeup artist (aka my hus­band and broth­erin-law), at the sen­sa­tional Beach­wood Cafe. It’s that per­fect mix of old-Hol­ly­wood diner and new-Hol­ly­wood hip­ster – kale and mush­room burg­ers any­one?

3pm: On lo­ca­tion again. Our home base for this shoot is one of my favourite LA cafes – Paramount Cof­fee Project. Good cof­fee, an in­ter­est­ing mix of teas (like ginger and cot­ton candy) and a playlist aimed right at my heart (there can never be too much Mor­ris­sey). We’re shoot­ing a video for Karen Walker Jew­ellery with an amaz­ing 14 year-old Los Angeles model, Kather­ine. She and our di­rec­tor and cam­era op­er­a­tor shoot on an un­mis­tak­able LA street cor­ner. The rest of us, in­clud­ing Kather­ine’s mum and dad, stay in the air-con­di­tioned Paramount or watch from a lit­tle way up the street. Af­ter each take we crowd around the mon­i­tor and make our ad­just­ments, but it’s pretty per­fect

Karen Walker at LA’s Beach­wood Cafe. Left: Ad­vanced Style icon Phyl­lis Sues on set at the Karen Walker Jew­ellery shoot.

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