Karen Elson's Good Taste

The model, singer, mother and designer for Nine West talks about her favorites in fashion, skincare and comfort food.

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Karen Elson

Photo By Courtesy of Nine West;

YSL vintage


She’s not your average multi-hyphenate. Having shot to fame in 1998 as the crimson-haired model with the alabaster complexion, mother-of-two Karen Elson also sings — she cut a solo album, “The Ghost Who Walks” — and opened a vintage clothing store in Nashville, Tenn. Elson, who is appearing in Lanvin’s fall ads, has also found time to design a fall ’11 capsule collection for Nine West. The line, part of Nine West Vintage America, features four pairs of shoes, two handbags, two necklaces and a charm bangle. The biggest challenge in designing shoes, Elson said, is finding materials that match your ideas. “It’s all good to say you want a high-heel velvet wedge, but then you have to [figure out] what’s the right velvet and color,” she mused, adding she called on best friend and shoe designer Tabitha Simmons for advice. “I’ve known her since we were 16, and we’re thick as thieves. I talked to her, and [it became] clear [I wanted] these shoes [to look] somewhat tattered and falling apart.”

Favorite era for vintage finds:
“The 1940s. Or anything vintage YSL [at right].”

Hair color I want to try:
Some days I get wistful about dyeing it a shade of peach, but maybe I should’ve done that in my 20s.”

Preferred comfort food:
“What woman doesn’t like chocolate? Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate with ginger is so delicious. It’s always trouble when I buy it.”

Best part of being a mom: "Everyday magical things. Kids are such honest little creatures, sometimes showing you things you could be doing better.”

The item in my wardrobe I could never part with:
“A beautiful, floor-length dress Anna Sui gave me years ago. It’s purple and gold, and I can put it on for anything, be it a wedding or just an evening out.”

Must-have beauty product:
“I’m always trying something new. I’m currently into Skinceuticals and Patricia Wexler M.D.”

Favorite music album:
Bob Dylan’s “Desire.” “It’s such a beautiful record, and the storytelling is remarkable. Whenever I put it on, I just want to listen to it over and over again.”

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