Karen Walker: Working Class Manchester at the Wigan Casino

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New Zealand designer Karen Walker is known for finding ultra-specific design references for her collections, and fall proved to be no exception. Next season, Karen's girl is a working-class "Northerner," an endearing tomboy type -- maybe a little like the designer herself -- who changes from her steel-mill uniform and slithers into itty-bitty cocktail dresses to hit the disco after work.

Practically speaking, Walker's inspiration made for a number of borrowed-from-the-boys basics (sweat shorts, clean button downs, duffle coats) interspersed with bright, candy-colored print dresses culled from a '70s night club -- specifically, the Wigan Casino, Manchester's most famous disco.

To keep things lively, menswear-inspired pieces (often featuring swatches of shiny black leather) were juxtaposed against girly floral prints and and saturated colors, as in one runway look that paired nautical blue chinos with a sheer, printed floral blouse. As always, Walker's sense of humor came through in the season's signature print, this time a "patch" pattern featuring commemorative badges printed on gauzy crepe de Chine -- not unlike the kind you'd expect to find on your grandfather's old club jacket.

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