From Fountain Inn to Fashionista

February 2017
Written By: 
Charlotte Baroody
Photographs by: 
Charlotte Baroody

A conversation with Susan Walker

Growing up in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, Susan Walker learned from a very early age the difference between a store-bought dress and one that was made with couture fashion in mind. It was her very own mother who taught her this lesson. She was an extraordinary seamstress and would bring dresses home from department stores in Columbia for Walker and her sister. Her mother taught her at the young age of eight the difference between a regular seam and a French seam, about what regarded an outfit as fashionable and the precise details of its workmanship. This love for design, detail and sewing was passed to Walker who, after graduating from Winthrop University and teaching school for seven years, decided her true love was for the interiors of spaces and how to recreate them.

Walker obtained her degree in interior design at the Museum of Art School in Greenville. She was already making custom drapes and bedspreads for friends. By word of mouth, confidante Lineta Pritchard spread the word all over Horry and Georgetown counties about the sensational craft Walker possessed.

After designing some areas of Pritchard’s house, Walker began to receive multiple personal requests. Those personal requests have now turned into a business. From 1985 to present, Walker has had a unique and discreet approach to her interior designs. She is not afraid to mix textures and colors and she remains in the exquisite comfort of her magazine-ready home, ready for your personal interior desires that she can no doubt fill.

What does style mean to you?
Style is classic. Style is freedom. Being able to add frivolity, accessories and colors to things. Jewelry and pocketbooks that make the individual. Fabrics, trims, skirts, jackets or drapes—it’s all interrelated.

What historical fashion muse do you most identity with?
Coco Chanel. She was reared in an orphanage and had no money. She taught herself how to sew. Everything she learned early on was learned from the streets. That's how she developed her signature style: quilted bags, flats, trousers, short hair cuts, cardigans. She was the first to create the “label.” She is timeless and recreated her same looks a thousand times and they're still going strong.

How do you stay illuminated in fashion and design?
Looking at the world around me. Reading magazines and books. I love people watching everywhere I go—on vacations and here at home.

Who is your favorite designer?
Rose Cumming. She set the stage for minimalists. She added frivolous embellishments. She took patterns and textures and explored them and blended in a way that you had never seen before. She showed everyone how things didn’t always have to match. These are all great aspects of a wonderful interior designer.

What is your most coveted item of clothing or accessory?
My great Aunt Dorothy’s winter coat with fur trim. It is more than 100 years old. It is in wonderful condition and I can still wear it today. I truly cherish that coat.