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Karen Walker Etiquette dress, 2000

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New Zealand Fashion Museum

"Karen Walker takes a look at the uniforms of well-mannered society and says, 'No, thank you very much'," says the press release for Karen Walker’s Etiquette collection. The concept of the collection was Karen’s rejection of the rules of polite clothing etiquette – blue and green should been seen together, and clothing conventions should be broken. The black cocktail dress, the staple of the socialite’s wardrobe, is shaken up and given a casual, street edge with a screen-print of a broken string of pearls. This dress was part of the Etiquette summer collection presented at the 2000 Mercedes Australian Fashion Week and was selected for the Grand Marnier/Powerhouse Museum’s Fashion of the Year 2000 exhibition in Sydney. It also sold well internationally in Australia, Japan, the US and the UK. The dress epitomises the best qualities of contemporary New Zealand fashion embracing style with a relaxed attitude. It has become a fashion icon being instantly recognisable and attributable to Karen Walker.

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  • Text adapted with permission from Te Papa and Digital NZ

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