On every seat at the Karen Walker Fall 2013 show yesterday was a newspaper-sized print out of the label’s Spring 2013 eyewear lookbook, shot by Advanced Style’s Ari Seth Cohen and starring four of his muses, painter Ilona Royce Smithkin, stylist and founder of Rodin Olio Lusso Linda Rodin, opera singer Joyce Carpati, and store owner Lyn Dell. It’s pretty much the best campaign ever, with the ladies wearing their own clothes in their own homes, looking beyond fab in Karen Walker eyewear.
Even better, 91-year-old Ilona Royce Smithkin, and sixty-five year old Linda Rodin sat front row at the fashion show. Smithkin was wearing her signature ginger false eyelashes curled to perfection, blue eyeshadow, and a neon pink scarf with a pink rose that she made herself. Rodin was chic in all black and giant Karen Walker sunnies. We sat down with each of them separately after the show to get the scoop on becoming models and what they thought of Walker’s latest collection.
First we caught up with Ilona, who was there with a friend. Honestly, she looks better at ninety-one than I think I may ever look.
Fashionista: Hi Ilona. Tell me what is was like to be a model for Karen Walker.
Ilona Royce Smithkin: I’ve never modeled before, this was my first time.
Were you nervous?
No! Not at all. I had a lot of fun.
Did you get to style yourself for the campaign?
Oh yes! I make my clothes. I put things upside down and I turn things backside-front. I turn them inside out and cut them up.
What is your style motto?
Well, I haven’t any. I feel different each day and I feel that in how I dress.
Do you have a favorite outfit to wear or a favorite color?
Everyday, whatever I wear, it’s my favorite because if I don’t like, I don’t wear it.
You must have a very big closet.
Not really, but I make do with a lot of things. I use a lot of scarves that I make myself.
What did you think of the show?
It was amazing. Many of the things are very lovely and causal. Very easy to wear! That is very comfortable, and at my stage of life, I like comfortable.
I like comfortable too. Who doesn’t?
I think we live in a time now where everybody is much more comfortable for themselves. It’s a good time to get dressed.
After chatting with Ilona I caught up with Linda on the way out, whom I’d met before at her amazing apartment that is decked out with the most inspiring collection of things, from paper flowers, to seashells, to a collection of her favorite pink lipsticks that she keeps in the fridge. Seriously, she is beyond.
I see you everywhere–it’s great! For Karen Walker, for J. Crew…
Yes! It’s fun.
Are you feeling a resurgence of interest in you personally?
I’m not really feeling that, but it’s fun to be noticed, of course. Anybody would be lying if they said they wouldn’t like it.
What did you think of the collection today?
I love it! And I love Karen. I just met her today for the first time. I’ve always loved her glasses, so when they asked me to do [the lookbook] I thought, “Oh! Of course!”
Well, they look great on you!
Thank you. She has great glasses and I’m blind as a bat, so I can wear a new pair every week!
What was it like to be photographed for the campaign?
It was great. Ari [Seth Cohen] is fantastic. I’m a stylist, but it’s always the most fun to style myself with my own clothes in my own home. That makes it so much fun because I know exactly what I want to wear, and they let me wear anything I wanted and have my hair how I wanted. I said I only want red lipstick or pink lipstick, and they were ok with that.
What are your plans for the rest of fashion week?
This is really my only show. I’m always working during fashion week. I don’t know how everyone runs from show to show.
I have to be at Lincoln Center in ten minutes.
How are you going to get there?!
A taxi, I think.
Oh, you have to be young for that. Ilona and I, we don’t have to go any place else!
Check out Linda and Ilona in the Karen Walker eyewear look book. You’ll want giant sunnies and a feather boa after, I promise.