Beauty. That is always my focus. The gala gowns of Karen Caldwell are a vision of beauty—lovely, feminine, powerful, and enchanting. Come and view her newest designs and be inspired.
Designer Karen Caldwell, who lives in the Napa Valley and commutes to San Francisco, started her couture fashion company, Karen Caldwell Design, just over a year ago.
Now women all over the US are clamoring for her gorgeous evening gowns and chic cocktail dresses for their superb craftsmanship, body-conscious silhouettes, and one-of-a-kind individuality. Each gown and dress and Karen’s gloves and obi sashes are made to order.
In just a year, Karen has received national recognition. Town & Country recently published Karen’s lovely evening dresses (worn at recent galas in San Francisco). Fashion fanatics custom ordered her lovely ensembles for the opening nights of the San Francisco Symphony and the San Francisco Opera.
Pared-down, elegant, classic and utterly flattering, Karen’s gowns are individually made of opulent Duchesse satin, luxurious silk jersey, ethereal silk tulle, fine woven wool (with the look of silk) , and rare silks that Karen hand-dyes.
“Karen’s gowns are a dream to wear. They’re so elegant. I feel like a goddess.” – San Francisco interior designer, Jean LaretteYes, they are startlingly glamorous. So is Karen, a stately blonde with movie-star glamour (well, a movie star from the thirties or forties). She’s also a fabulous individual—kind, generous, the mother of two boys, wife of Oliver Caldwell (an art dealer), as well as a wine-grower, and beloved friend.
“I grew up in Los Angeles and loved to sew and make clothes from the age of seven,” said Karen to me in a recent conversation. “My grandmother, who was a noted choreographer and dancer, was a best friend of Edith Head, the Hollywood costume design. One of her clients was Elizabeth Taylor, in her heyday. I was exposed to Hollywood style and glamour even as a young girl. I’ve always loved fashion, especially simple, timeless designs like those by Balenciaga. I collect vintage fashion, and study the lines, the lining, the patterns and art of couture.”
“I have such fun creating these gowns,” Karen told me. “I travel all over the country to find the best fabrics and then drape them on the body. And the linings and inside are as carefully made and shaped as the gown itself. We also introduce very custom-made finishing touches like special buttonholes and hidden zippers. I often add jeweled buckles, shoulder ornamentation, and vintage jeweled embellishment.”
“I make each gown to order, and each is fitted several times until it is perfect,” noted Karen, who is in negotiations to sell her collections at a Los Angeles fashion store, and a top San Francisco retailer.
Describing her gowns, some of which are shown here, Karen notes, “I also use non-Merino wool, and fabrics that are produced with no animal cruelty. Even my silk, called Peace silk, is produced with silk yarns made without harming the silk worm. I always try to think of ways to be honorable and conscious in my fashion craftsmanship and philosophy.”
“Karen’s cocktail dresses are beautifully crafted and feel wonderful on the body. I wore a one-shoulder gown by Karen Caldwell Design to a gala recently and have never had so many compliments. I love Karen’s couture.” – San Francisco philanthropist Clara Shayevich
The pink one-shouldered gown is in 100% silk.
The dramatic red dress is also in silk knit jersey dyed to the perfect crimson red, with an organic dying process.
The yellow gown is in stretch wool with 100 % silk lining.
The sunset blue one-shoulder Grecian gown is in 100% silk knit jersey. “I love working with these fabrics,” said the designer.
All custom-crafted gowns shown here, priced from $1,500, were designed by Karen Caldwell, Karen Caldwell Design, and made in her atelier. Readers can contact Karen on her site: www.karencaldwelldesign.com and e-mailing Karen directly from her site. Custom designs can he ordered directly from Karen Caldwell Design.
Photographs of Karen Caldwell Design gowns by Drew Altizer Photography at the Penthouse Suite of the Fairmont Hotel, San Francisco. All images used with express permission. www.drewaltizer.com
Love Karen Caldwell, her designs and her!
As a stylist, I have chosen it for clients and I have worn it myself. LOVE.
One feels magnificent and comfortable! Proving comfort is part of looking great!
Thank you Diane!
I, too, am dedicated to beauty. And Karen's dresses are stunning!
I love their exquisite elegance. Thank you for the tip!
Until now, I did not know of Karen Caldwell. Her designs are beautiful and classic. They are flattering, and avoid some of the ridiculous statements that many top name Paris designers are guilty of.
I can see the influence of vintage and classic Balenciaga she mentions. I like designers and architects that develop variations on classic themes, and don't go to great lengths to re-invent the wheel. In such clothes, the woman and the jewels come to the fore.
Oh my goodness. Only one year in business? Her designs are so evolved. Truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Shiree'
I have fallen in love with Karen Caldwell designs.. They are truly elegant and her dresses also have an enduring style..
The colours of Karen's gowns are incredible. I enjoyed seeing her work.
Thanks for the beautiful pictures Diane+congratulations to Karen.Just delicious design! xx peggybraswelldesign.com
Wish I were still a fashion editor in SF. I would have loved to use Karen's gowns in my traditional Hell Week issue fashion issue of the Sunday magazine. . . gorgeous, Karen. Congratulations.
Key words: glamour and grace, when combined they create true beauty as in Caldwell's fashion.
Diane, I enjoyed immensely also your interview with Ann Getty
on 1stdibs. Looking forward to another year of your inspired and inspiring writing. Buon Anno!
WOW, such glamour!
I went to her web sight and I must say she has done a wonderful job on her web page and the cloths are of course very well made and the fact that she seeks out fabrics from around the world and uses ethical practices in making and dying, is also of huge importance... she is the real deal...
I also, could easily see you in her creation... So, elegant and graceful, like you...
How exquisite! The designs are classic and elegant - just my style! And you can tell the fabrics are lovely by the beautiful draping! If only I had the lifestyle to support such sumptuous attire!!
I'm so very pleased you all love Karen's designs.
I had a wonderful comment on my link with the feature on Facebook--Michael Yomtov said, 'Somewhere Edith Head is smiling". Such a great compliment to Karen.
The San Francisco Ballet gala opening is coming up on January 26, at the San Francisco Opera House, and I know many women have already asked Karen to design their gowns. It's the simplicity I love--the color and classicism. These gowns look so beautiful in an opulent setting. They make women look so divine.
Happy days, DIANE
Diane these are truly works od art...thank you so much for sharing such luscious beauty!
Happy New Years!
Art by Karena
So chic and elegant...I love her fabric choices and how she is careful with them.. these dresses would look fabulous on real women, thanks for the "heads up"
Happy happy New Year Diane and all good things to you in 2011...
Lots of love and looking forward to another year of the fabulous Style Saloniste!
ummm what a treat it would be to own one! Off to check out the site!
Happy New Year to you Diane from Stockholm!
All covered in snow. Beautiful but cold!
I'm so looking forward visiting SF at end of this month and doing my research to be well prepared. Being an experienced globetrotter this is still my first time to SF.
Really breathtaking! Classic glamour. We are going to Paris in April (as we do every year--used to live there) and I will thoroughly peruse your blog for new ideas.
I have read your posts in the past, but now I am officially following you!
Hello, dear Friends--welcome to 2011 and lots of new stories and features and beautiful photography.
So many of you love KAREN CALDWELL DESIGNS...gowns! I've been so delighted with your lovely responses and kind comments about Karen and her new designs.
I am looking forward to the Jan 26 opening gala of the San Francisco Ballet, and other parties coming soon--because lots of women will be wearing custom-made gowns and dresses by Karen.
Ingela-please send me an email about your trip to San Francisco- I would love to send you some tips and some great ideas for your visit. Or phone me at 415-922-9675 (I am in the phone book...hiding in plain sight).
I wish you every happiness for 2011--and may all your dreams come true.
Oh these gowns are beautiful! Karen is so talented. Loved this post.
Love the dresses how romantic and almost nostalgic they feel. Karen is indeed a talent on the brink of big success. I actually admired a gown of hers at a function we went to and though I had never heard of her, immediately saw she was blessed with a gift. You have a great blog, that I really enjoy.
Would you care to check out mine? Its new and I am just getting started but love getting advice from others whose blogs I admire!
Diane, I am in absolute heaven. Gowns like this have me looking forward to the upcoming season of events - in fact now I'll be looking in my mailbox for invites. These are truly beautiful - in a sea of overdone and mostly costume-like dresses, these stand apart. They are classic and timeless.
Time to go drum up some event invites! :)
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