In my beauty bag: Karen Walker

21:41, Sep 28 2014
Karen Walker
RECIPE FOR RADIANCE: Fashion designer Karen Walker uses a variety of products from Osmosis to maintain her flawless skin.

You'lll be hard-pressed to fnd a New Zealander who doesn't know her name, and it's no wonder when you check out Karen Walker's body of work.

The 44-year-old is the designer behind one of the country's most successful fashion brands, available in some 30 countries and 200 cities worldwide.

Oh, and she also controls a dizzying lineup of brand extensions - Karen Walker Jewellery, Eyewear, Home Ware, and Paints; a series of collaborations, a children's-wear collection with Japanese global chain Uniqlo, and a diffusion line, Hi There from Karen Walker.

Walker lives in Auckland with her husband Mikhail - Creative Director for the brand - and her six-year-old daughter Valentina.

She talked to us about all aspects of beauty - from her loathing of chipped nail polish to her yoga habit.

"I wear makeup whenever I leave the house, or have guests in the house for that matter. I'm not someone who layers on loads of makeup but I do like to the leave the house with a certain amount of grooming.


I think cosmetics and beauty services are essentials, but also a lot of fun. I don't find the time I spend sitting in the chair at the hairdresser or beauty parlour to be a chore. I find it's a fun, communal experience, but also a good place to work - I like to have my laptop out while there's hubbub around me - I find the hum of people around me stimulates ideas.

My morning routine involves multiple bottles of different things from Osmosis. So many bottles and so little bathroom shelf space!  And always finishing off with sunscreen if I'm going to be outside for more than a couple of minutes.

Although I wear makeup every day, I never go for a makeup-y look. I really hate too much makeup.

For me it's usually about a clean and even base (Chanel and YSL), a bit of a tidy-up on the brows (Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics true black), mascara (Topshop) and some definition on the cheeks (M.A.C).

Natural, moisturised lips are my fallback, but just as often I'll use a bit of colour either as a stain or a strong, defined hue.

I love Topshop's 'Nevada' for a neutral fleshy colour and Topshop's 'Ooh La La' for a coral stain. For some pink pop, Topshop's 'Brighton Rock' is amazing - chalky and intense.

Also I love Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics' lip tars. We work with them when we show at New York Fashion Week (NYFW) and their lip tars are amazing. I especially go for their psychedelic orange gel.

I might go completely crazy for an evening occasion and break out the YSL liquid liner for a little flick on the eye or go for an extreme lip colour. That's about it to be honest.

I have my brows groomed once a month at Lucy and the Powder Room at The Department Store. I seem to spend a lot of time there for my general maintenance and panel-beating.

Just a shape and maybe a colour on the brows, but not too extreme. I don't like drag-queen eyebrows, unless they're on a drag-queen, so I always ask for the top of the line to be soft and not too dramatic but to keep the lower line quite crisp.

I really love clear skin and bright eyes. For the skin, every Autumn I go to the Skin Institute for a dose of IPL to get rid of any sun-damage over the summer.

It's incredibly painful and leaves you looking ghastly for a week, but once that's over it's incredible the results it gives. 

In the meantime I like to get a facial once a month -  often when I'm travelling I'll get a facial at the spa at the hotel, I especially love the Agua Spa at Sanderson in London and always make the time for facial when I'm there. Heaven.

To keep on shape, apart from retaining some sort of self-control around the cup-cakes, I go for loads of yoga interspersed with tennis.

I try to do some yoga practice every day. If I go more than two days without, my whole body feels like it's seizing up. Nothing beats down-dogs for tone and back-bends and child's poses for antidoting the day's stress.

Also, my yoga teacher tells me that inversions are the best anti-ageing trick in the book, so lots of handstands and forearm balances are called for - the more time you can spend upside-down the better for keeping the wrinkles at bay apparently.

For some running around the only option I go for is having an hour on the tennis court. 

In summer I like the idea of doing 50 lengths in the pool each day but in reality that seldom happens - I'll settle for 20 if I have to, usually with a six-year-old gripping to my neck which adds to the work-out.

I have weekly manicures and three-weekly pedi's, again at Lucy and the Powder Room at The Department Store.

If I could squeeze it in the manis would be twice-weekly. I can't stand chipped or worn nail polish, so by day four or five I've normally taken it all off rather than having a chip.

I love Jin Soon's nail polish. We work with them for our shows in New York and it's her 'Nostalgia' that I'm wearing all the time at present, a soft, peachy neutral that lasts perfectly.

I've got short hair at present and the most important thing with a short hair cut is to have frequent cuts.

Less time in the bathroom in the morning but more visits to the salon, so I go to Stephen Marr every three weeks to keep neat and tidy.

The brand of hair products I use is mainly Bumble and Bumble. We work with them showing at NYFW and our hair director, Laurent Philippon, always gives me a little sneak preview of some new product B&B are about to release.

I'm loving their Cityswept Finish at present for a wettish vibe, but I also use a lot of Kevin Murphy, I especially love Powder Puff which works with long hair or short cuts.

I like the idea of having a fragrance that's a signature. I've only worn Molecule 01 for many many years now and I love its simplicity and single-mindedness.

I often get stopped in the street by people wanting to know what it is. It's very different to everything else out there.

We've been selling the entire Escentric Molecules family in Karen Walker stores since they launched and we love everything they do.

At the end of the day I use cleanser obviously plus the many, many various Osmosis potions, all of which I love.

Once or twice a week Aesop's Quartz exfoliant paste gives a bit of glow and is a great stand-by if there's no time for a facial.

The best thing for good-looking skin though is lots of sleep (combined with no sun, healthy diet, etc etc ) so, on a good night, I'm in bed by 9pm.

I find most appearance complaints can be sorted out if you find the right people to add to your pit crew and are happy to spend an adequate amount of time in their chair.

- As told to Julie Roulston