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