Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Karen Millen's transformation - so far the signs are good!

Probably like many of you, I had the new Karen Millen Autumn Winter 13 "lookbook" drop through my door today (photos interspersed below). More accurately it should be referred to as the Autumn Winter 13 campaign, with portraits by David Bailey.
Inside it says that "Karen Millen is transforming." So the next obvious question to me was "into what?" But that's not a question that seems to be addressed. Rather it is a case of talking about the coming together of Karen Millen and David Bailey and their creative journey. I still haven't got to the nub of what the changes are really all about - although I have an idea and some hopes of my own as Karen Millen hasn't had a good overhaul for many years.
Unlike Reiss and Whistles, brands that are comparable with Karen Millen price wise, I'm not really convinced that Karen Millen has ever found its style niche on the High Street. Or maybe it has but maybe it doesn't want to inhabit that particular niche any more. 
Whilst there's no doubting that previous collections did have some great staple pieces, I quite often felt that it was just a bit too try hard - a little short, a little too tight, a bit heavy on the animal print, a ruffle too far and quite often something perfect would be ruined when I turned it around and it was laced up at the back. I suppose it's always felt a bit trussed up, as though it needed to kick back and relax a bit more.
It's odd that my path with Karen Millen should cross again so soon. When I recently started to think about what to wear to an upcoming 50th birthday party, the theme of which is "Out of Africa" (more about that after the event) Karen Millen was the store that really sprang to mind as having animal print pieces that would fit the bill. However is that what you would really want for your brand? For it to be the go to store for something animal print, slightly theatrical and a little OTT, to wear to a themed birthday party?
So, as to the "transformation" I particularly like this jacket which is from the new collection.
Whilst in the Karen Millen at Bicester at the weekend, I took a photograph of this jacket which is very similar. As I recall I think that it was about £130 and the sizing was quite snug. They did seem to have a good selection of stock though so it may be worth making enquiries for anyone who likes it enough to pursue it further - which I am now wishing I had done!
So, what do we think ladies?  Do we think that Karen Millen is due for an overhaul and if so, what do we hope to see. One thing is for sure, as you can see from these shots, plaid is going to be everywhere this winter and this dress could be a good place to start.
 Checked dress (£175)


  1. I agree with you Beth. It never made it in to my list of shops that I wanted to go in to either. I always thought it looked a little bit too footballers wives (oh gosh - someone is going to shoot me down in flames aren't they?). But the first picture is stunning - let's hope the rest is as good - I'm one of the ones that didn't get a lookbook - can't think why :o)

  2. I agree I never went in there as whenever I did I thought it was too tarty, too tight & too OTT! plus the sizing was always so small! looking forward to revisiting it as would be great to have another top end high street brand that offered wearable, stylish and contemporary pieces, binkie x

  3. It was interesting to read your comments. Companies usually have a re-invention when their sales figures start dipping like good old M&S. Maybe this is what Karen Millen is experiencing?

    I'm a big fan on Karen Millen although only buy in the sale due to the price. They are great for petites and I love their knitwear & cute dresses.

  4. I agree that aside from the odd party dress, KM lacked direction. I adore the tartan print dress though and will be popping back to see the 'trasnformation' for myself.

  5. Interesting post! I've never really been a fan of Karen Millen, bar one yellow leather jacket that taunted me from the shop window a few years ago. In general, I find the stuff a bit too OTT and as you say 'trussed up'. Not a shop I would ever bother going into, so it will be interesting to see if they do change direction.

  6. Karen Millen is a shop that I 'dip into' when shopping with a friend. We 'ooh/aah' over the shoes and bags and express amazement at the price of these and the clothes. I've never bought anything, perhaps because I think the clothes will wear ME rather than the other way round?

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  8. I loved all of the insightful comments left in relation to this post - thank you. I think that they are worth feeding back to Karen Millen as they speak volumes about how the brand is received. Definitely time for a change!


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