Fashion Owes a Debt to the Grande Dame Karen Huger
by Evan Ross Katz
30 November 2020
If John Kander and the late Fred Ebb were afforded the opportunity to reimagine Chicago: The Musical in the year 2020, the lyrics to the showstopper "Roxie" would need a rewrite. You see these days, the name on everybody's lips is gonna be Karen. Karen Huger to be more specific, the grand dame of the Real Housewives of Potomac.
"Proud of you Karen," Rihanna wrote during one of Huger's appointment viewing Instagram lives earlier this year. A fancam of Huger shared by beauty guru Jackie Aina has over 335K views. The Beyoncé lyric "I just might be a Black Bill Gates in the making" is thought to be a reference to Huger's nickname for her husband, Ray. This to say that few Housewives across any franchise have permeated the zeitgeist with as much moxie, aptitude and legandaric capabilities as Ms. Huger.
"You like my outfit?" Huger asks Ray in the show's premiere episode, which debuted in January, 2016. "I love your outfit... where are you going is the question?" he asks. In the ensuing years, Huger's proven she's going places, first launching La'Dame Fragrance in 2018, the first installation in what Huger describes as a beauty, fashion and lifestyle house. On Sunday night's penultimate episode of the current season, Huger introduced the world to Victoria, Lisa, Rachael, Brooke, Giae and Chanel. No, they're not vying for new Housewives off-shoot, but rather Huger's just-launched, long-awaited wig line with RPGShow. The line is a collaboration with Huger's Creative Director Steven Thomas, AKA the Hair Doc, who has been doing Huger's since 2018. Notice a difference?
Huger in season one (L) versus season four (R) of "Potomac"
"When that time dictated for me to be a housewife, I was a housewife and a mommy... for 17 years. Now I'm a business woman and the timing is now. You strike while the iron is hot and baby, La Dame is hot," she said during a meeting with Thomas on Sunday night's episode. It's not just the wigs, but Huger's fashion, and the glow-up viewers have witnessed since her early days on the show. In fact, one can only hope next up in the La Dame menagerie might be a full-on fashion line. (Take that, Robyn Dixon.)
Below, we talk about her fashion glow-up ("The couture addition took my fashion to the next level"), her signature style (" It's not rare to see me in a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt paired with a pair of Christian Louboutin's coupled with diamond stud earrings"), favorite confessional looks, the Housewife whose style she most emulates and her advice for co-star Gizelle Bryant, whose style Huger has described as "trashy."
How would you describe your style pre-RHOP?
My style is and has always been classic elegance with a modern twist.
Is it fair to say this season you've stepped your fashion game up? Or would you say that's a mischaracterization?
While I remained true to my everyday chic simple fashion throughout this season, I definitely took my fashion sensibility above and beyond. I sprinkled more couture purses, dresses and wraps throughout the season. The couture addition took my fashion to the next level. Mixing and matching is key to personal style, it's fun and brings out your unique style which for me would be timeless. I am someone who is stylish and may or may not follow a fashion trend but always stay true to my own aesthetic. Personal style is about developing a sense of self rather than simply absorbing trends. I definitely have modernized my classic style and along with my health journey, have worked on myself inside and out. Taking care of yourself with self-care is so important and I feel good which resonates with my overall look. Your health is your wealth, something we've all learned during this pandemic.
Throughout the show's five seasons, what looks are you most proud of and which (if any) do you regret?
Season one confessional look in the shiny electric blue dress makes me cringe. Clearly my looks evolved for the better each season. As I look back over the last five years, and my fashion choices; I'm proud to say I see personal growth for the better which is reflected both inside and out.
Do you have a definitive favorite look?
My absolute favorite look is my season five confessional single black gloves and diamonds look paying tribute to Hollywood greats like Dorthy Danridge and Lena Horne.
You've famously called out your co-star Gizelle Bryant on her questionable fashion choices. You said this of them earlier this season on the show: "Thank God Gizelle is a good looking woman because she can't dress at all. I'm ashamed to be seen with her sometimes, to be honest. I get a headache talking about Gizelle's clothes. You have an Excedrin or a Tylenol?" On Watch What Happens Live earlier this month, host Andy Cohen asked you about this topic and you responded by saying: "I've got to give her a moment [because] she's lagging behind… It's no shame though. That's her trademark." Cohen responded by asking you to clarify if you meant that having poor taste in clothing is her trademark to which you breezily responded: "That's one of them… I'm not trying to change Gizelle. I accept her honey, trashy wardrobe and all." In your opinion, what can Gizelle do to improve her style?
Outside of Potomac, which Housewife has the best style?
I absolutely adore Erika Jayne's style.
How do you approach your reunion looks? The season four look was my favorite.
I really think about what style I want to evoke and work with my team to bring it all together. It's important to feel good, comfortable and very special, because these reunions are intense.
What can you tell us about your season five reunion look?
Season five reunion look was yellow and I love yellow. The golden hues on my skin tone is wonderful! I worked with a stylist, Jeremy Haynes to create this effortless elegant look with my signature body conscious structure.
Do you always use a stylist, or is that specific to the reunions?
For my daily looks I rely on my fashion sense to create chic, clean effortless attire. However, when it comes to my confessionals it's a team collaboration with my glam squad and myself. We brainstorm and make the magic happen. For the reunion this season, I went with a stylist to create the feel of pure elegance.
Where are some of your favorite places to shop?
I love boutique shopping. I always find unique treasures that I add my personal touch to, ensuring that is truly original to me and my taste. I particularly love matching couture with a less expensive brand. It's not rare to see me in a pair of blue jeans and a white T-shirt paired with a pair of Christian Louboutin's coupled with diamond stud earrings. This is one of my signature go-to moves when I want a clean and chic powerful look.
Tell us about your wig line. What can we expect? What are you most excited about?
I had that wig shift on national TV and that was my a-ha moment, as it wasn't my first time that happened. So I have been looking to develop my own wig line for quite some time. When RPGshow presented this opportunity to work together to create the La'Dame by Karen Huger X RPGSHOW collaboration I was so excited to have the chance to create wigs that fit and felt wonderful. I also wanted Steven, The Hair Doc, to be by my side as the creative director. He is a genius hairstylist. I am most excited to share this wig line to celebrate and elevate all women to be the best that they can be.
Welcome to "Wear Me Out," a column by pop culture fiend Evan Ross Katz that takes a look at the week in celebrity dressing. From award shows and movie premieres to grocery store runs, he'll keep you up to date on what your favorite celebs have recently worn to the biggest and most inconsequential events.
Confessional screenshots via Bravo