Four days in Los Angeles is all in a week’s work for Karen Walker
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.
WEDNESDAY JULY 20, 2016
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.
THURSDAY JULY 21, 2016
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.