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Fashion Roundtable's Fashion Director Karen Binns has been a fixture across art, music, fashion and pop culture since her youth in New York where she was muse to the legendary Jean Michel Basquiat.

We open our doors and invite you to Ask Karen your deepest fashion and cultural dilemmas.
Simply email admin@fashionroundtable or comment on our Instagram with #askkarenwhat

In the first of our regular Ask Karen? features, we ask Karen her thoughts on pop culture today.

Ask Karen?

What would Warhol and Basquiat think of art and fashion today and who are the Warhol and Basquiats of today’s pop culture?

A: Jean... 
Well I haven’t really seen another body of work that identifies the viewpoint of Jean Michael Basquiat, as he was a sartorialist of events during the 80s, he incorporated the feeling of young black urban struggle in today’s modern civilisation. 

But since MySpace to Instagram, it harder then ever to find an authentic voice of the inner struggle of a young black boy without it looking like a boring copy.

As for Warhol, critics that are more authentic…and still have the space to tell it like it is ... I've always felt that Andy was an artist / critic who had the capacity to predict brilliance.

I’m blessed to know Hilton Als and Charlie Porter, 2 critics of the arts.

No, they are not trying to be the next art team, as they are both writers; 

But, we can find on occasion, someone new and fresh, from their critic.

For our second Ask Karen? feature, we ask Karen which shows inspired her the over London Fashion Week this season and why?

A: "Burberry for an explosive debut for Riccardo Tisci,  bringing the power and business back to London Fashion Week, Christopher Kane, for beautiful and  incredible workmanship, Chalayan .. for being a master, Preen for softness on a tough girl, Ashish for coming back to elegance, Asai Ta fortifying his brand with depth of design .. and consistancy... and Matty Bovan for excellence in design."

For our third Ask Karen? feature, we asked her this question. With Paris Fashion Week in full flow, we asked our Fashion Director Karen Binns for her insight on the phenomenon which is street style. Her answer really gets to the heart of the trend:

A: The New Luxe

First, I would just like to mention the name Kim Jones .. in this subject ..

A young British boy, that I met years ago, and consider a great friend ..

His career started , just making jumpers ..in fun colours ..

This is a simple form of streetwear ..

Then went on to collaborate with the streetwear brand Umbro ..then on to luxe brand Dunhill ..., oh , and then another luxe brand .. Louis Vuitton .. ohhhh , then ..excuse me ....

now .. look at him ..

At Dior ...

This is business ... today ...

From streetwear to super luxe

When your in touch with the streets ..the only way to go is UP...

Because, what is very rarely said about this business is .....

The BEST consumer is the one that has MORE to prove, from the streets ..

meaning ... all minorities .. and the working class...

They are the ones that are judged the most for their race and status... which means they will ALWAYS spend more than

Those that are immediately accepted for being wealthy and upperclass...

They are determined more then ever, to constantly improve their image...daily ...

I know this, because I’m a black woman in a world of constant judgement...

Which means I have no choice but to spend more ..

This is real .. this how the world is ..

We will buy a luxe item in 3 colours , per season , when the Un..judged will purchase just one... a year...

This is a FACT .......,,

This is something that can NO

LONGER .. be ignored ..

Which brings us to ..LVMH

And the appointment of VIRGIL

ABLOH ..

An African / American , with his heart on the streets ..and his hand in the pulse . Never missing a beat...

Just google him .. it’s all there in BLACK .... and white ..sorry ..

I meant OFF - WHITE ..

Numbers don’t lie .....

It’s right in your face .. just put your glasses on .. and recognise ..

streetwear is the NEW LUXE ..

Get into it ..

For our 4th Ask Karen What? We asked her about the where art fairs can learn from fashion shows - and vice versa. With Frieze Art Fair in London following straight on from Paris Fashion week where do you see similarities between art and fashion and what could the fashion industry learn from the art world?

A: Well, I’m not sure that I would compare fashion to art . 

Coming from Paris Fashion Week into Frieze is is like a whirlwind .. 

They are similar as far as excitement and enthusiasm... 

But in business... miles apart.

Frieze, which is a representation of the best that the art world has to offer, but with the level of talent that delivers an unlimited amount of revenue... for just one piece of art 

When thinking of what the fashion industry has to offer 

For just one dress .. even when your talking proper Couture , 

There is a HUGE space between the two... 

I feel in all fairness that both art and fashion can be an incredible inspiration to each other... 

And to be honest, because of Frieze coming just after the fashion weeks, its brought an extra hype and exhilaration to Frieze... as fashion is an expression of art .. 

To a certain degree, using sculptured shapes and graphic prints to lift the aesthetic of a clothing brand .. 

The fashion industry can take what’s most important from the art world: the depth of truth and authenticity and time that a true artist portrays in their work. 

Fashion, can take this note from the art world, if not only. 

To show designers the same amount of time, truth, and authenticity .. 

Only then, can they begin to get the dedication of their clients , that the art world 

Demands...

For Our 5th Ask Karen What, We Asked Where Sees The Relationship Between Music and Fashion. Music and Fashion have always been family. Are they brother and sister or cousins?

A: At this point in time I see that them as cousins?

Why: because they don’t always blend, but now and then cross over.

I see fashion as something not everyone has to have every day of their life. Whereas we all know that music soothes the soul of the beast. Music especially in our time I feel is as necessary as the food we eat. Meanwhile Fashion creates a conversation that’s entertaining.

For our 6th Ask Karen? We ask for Karen's opinion on inclusion and representation in the Fashion Industry.

A: "Well... what can i say inclusion. Really? There’s something I have noticed: it’s all well and good to use all races in advertising campaigns to show support for the community. But inclusion starts at the top... and it’s not with you friend, your cousin.My real question is: how much of this is practiced inside the office? Inside the teams that create the images? Great, book models of all races, but they will never really really respect inclusion until more of us become part of the actual team that creates the vision. This is the way to really feel inclusion.

I don’t mean that every team has to be a rainbow of colours, but that the decisions in the office, and the people with the money, have to respect and honour the different races that they are targeting by putting us in the teams. And I don’t mean one black girl in a team of 25 privileged girls - I mean equality within the team. And also equality within the people who chose the team.

So there’s no real inclusion until it fluctuates throughout the company ... creatively.”

For our 7th Ask Karen? about the relevance of the dandy in 2018. The first dandy was Beau Brummell whose statue you can see on Jermyn St. the centre of menswear in London. What in 2018 defines a dandy and who are your dapper icons?

A: Dandy... Well.

I’m not the biggest of dandy fans, 

But it is an aesthetic that important in Menswear .

As time goes on , the menswear market always manages to keep 

This style alive.

I don’t really have a dandy icon in mind , 

But. I can suggest to have a look at the designer collections 

of THOM BROWNE, who reflects a super modern male and female 

Futuristic point of view on the NEW DANDY 

and WALES BONNER, who defies the traditional image of a dandy 

By showing her collection as a celebration of the African / Caribbean 

Style of dandy...

Both giving you two different forms of this retro aesthetic...

For our 8th Ask Karen, we ask her thoughts on the recent news from the Lyst Report that Virgil Abloh's brand Off White, is now outselling market leaders such as Gucci, Prada and Balenciaga:

A: Streetwear ... can no longer be ignored !!!!! 

Numbers don’t lie . 
Off-White, A streetwear brand created by a young , black man from the 
Streets of Chicago, and DJ, has managed to Outsell one of the biggest, oldest 
And most prestigious brands on the planet GUCC. .. 

Well, what does this say... and we are talking globally .... 
It’s says that the urban market can no longer be ignored as one of the biggest 
Money moves going . 
And also, that is created by a so-called MINORITY... 
Numbers don’t lie... This is one of the most important achievements in Fashion today... 
That finally, as a minority, in the fashion industry... we can stand and take our 
Rightful place in this market... with all the receipts in our hands... 
Yes, the power of streetwear is as important and as relevant as high fashion 
And couture... 

Get into it ... and it’s only the beginning !