.

Feast or Fashion

Karen Williams

Karen Williams

I began my foray into fashion very early in life. By age nine, I was already aware of making bold fashion statements, like the time I wore my “Happy Birthday” tiara with a pink crinoline dress, laced white socks and shiny black patent leather shoes outside after my birthday party. The fact that I showcased this festive outfit in front of my friends, using the small pink circle park of Soundview Projects in The Bronx as my runway, only forecast the costume days to come!

During my early teen years, my father owned a small import/export boutique in Greenwich Village called Postincha.  The place was so tiny that if more than three customers showed up, they had to wait outside until those inside were through shopping.  My dad is credited with bringing the first Afghan sheepskin coats into America. The story goes that one of the coats he sold to Holly’s Harp — a boutique in Hollywood in the sixties — was bought by Cher, who wore the coat on the cover of Vogue magazine. The rest is “his-story…”

My side of the story is that by age fifteen, I had just as many full-length Afghan coats. I wore them crosstown to school on the New York City subway, and when asked about the coats on my travels to high school, I handed out business cards with my initials to my dad’s shop. That way, I could be rewarded with commissions on every coat that my advertising and marketing plan earned for me. Thus, a fashion entrepreneur was born.

I attended the Bronx High School of Science in hand-made leather shoes from Al-Di-La at the costly sum of $65, a full week’s pay. From my ears hung elegant gold-spun chandeliers from India, complemented with denim boy shirts of the sixties, under which no bra lurked as I was completely flat-chested and totally in sync with my idols of the day, Twiggy and Pat Cleveland…who was the African-American model of the day. When Pat shaved her head bald, I did the same.  My mother was absolutely appalled to cast eyes upon the shaved dome of her fifteen-year-old lanky daughter, though she’d cut her waist-length straight brown locks to a short and demure Vidal Sassoon cut only a short time before.  Fashion is in my genes and there’s not a damn thing I can do about it!

Through my father’s work in the New York fashion world, I met Verushka and Penelope Tree, famous models of that era. Later on, I did some modeling myself, as a runway model for I. Peri in Oakland, as a fit model for Jessica McClintock in San Francisco, and with print ads for Rolo and other local companies. Today, I continue to do print work as well as television commercials.

Last night, I modeled outfits for my gal pal. She totally feasted on watching me catwalk in five-inch heeled gladiator booties down my hall runway, which conveniently has a huge full-length mirror at the end of it. Though I loved the attention, there was little time for hanky-panky, as I had some serious coordinating and packing to do. Because besides being funny, I always want to give my audiences a slice of my fashionable life as part of their ticket price.

After all, love may make the world go ‘round, but fashion makes it look so good!

Feast on fashion with Karen on her new YouTube Channel. Let her hook you up at karen@sfbaytimes.com