Andre Walker has spent much of his adult life traveling the world as a fashion designer and stylist and residing mostly in Paris. But in 2004, Walker decided he’d had enough, and moved home. Not just back to the States, but literally, into his family’s spacious twenties house near Prospect Park, where the mascot—a suit of armor in the front hall that Walker calls Don Quixote—hasn’t moved in 25 years.
“It was weird at first, really weird,” says Walker, sitting in the bedroom that’s now outfitted with grown-up toys: a computer, a flat-screen TV, and all the photography books and archival fashion magazines the shelves can bear. “But when you are working and traveling, it’s not really important where you’re based.”
The family moved here in 1979 from a house on East 96th Street in Brooklyn. His mother, Shirley, had a hair salon nearby on Church Avenue; she bought the house, and his grandfather, who’d been chief carpenter at Pinewood Studios outside London, rebuilt the porch. At first, it was just Walker, his brother and sister, and their parents in the sprawling home. “I remember never seeing a house like this in Manhattan, so I had this idea that I was some rich spoiled child,” Walker says. “Which I kind of was. My mother spoiled us really badly. We always had the best clothes.”
In the eighties, a succession of relatives from London moved in; at one point, twelve family members were under one roof. Now, it’s just Walker, Shirley, his father, Barrington (both parents are ministers), and his grandmother, Elizabeth—although the activity level is still high. After Shirley closed the salon, she moved the equipment to the basement, where she still does her friends’ hair.
Entrepreneurship runs in the Walker family; Walker started selling T-shirts when he was 13, showed his fashions at the Roxy when he was 16, and by 19 was designing a line of his own.
In 1991, he moved to Paris at the invitation of Bjorn Amelan, the partner of the late fashion designer Patrick Kelly, and launched his own line. “God bless Bjorn,” Walker says with a laugh. “I mean, my biggest interest then was going roller-skating. He put up with that for a few years until it dissolved on its own.” Now Walker is a stylist for Dazed & Confused and works as a consultant to British menswear designer Kim Jones.
After all his moving around, returning to his essentially unchanged home means reconnecting with an unusually rich childhood. “This house for me was about being royalty, I guess,” he says. “I used to call myself Sir Andre Walker. I was totally delusional and glamour-filled.”