Karen Richter has what any fashion lover might call a dream job. As showroom manager for H&M’s head office in Canada, Karen spends her days overseeing an overflowing closet filled with the hottest looks and trends of the season. The showroom houses over a thousand pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories at any given time and it’s up to Karen to keep track of it all (somebody’s gotta do it!). Working with fashion journalists and stylists from across the country, she makes sure H&M’s most covet-worthy pieces get coverage in major magazines, newspapers and TV shows. Aside from her enviable job, Karen is also known in the industry for having amazing style, and with every girl’s dream closet at her fingertips, fashion inspiration is never too far away. “Almost everything I own is H&M, including shoes and accessories,” she says. “I really have no need to shop anywhere else!”

This month, designer
Sonia Rykiel follows up her holiday lingerie collection for H&M with her highly anticipated
collection of knitwear, shoes and accessories, which will be available in stores on February 20th. Which pieces does Karen have her eye on? “I love the jumpsuit and the oversized black and white striped top with the small crest,” she says. “I’d wear them together with heels.”

Want to know what it takes to land your fantasy job? Get to know the woman behind the country’s ultimate fashion closet in this month’s edition of
Designer DNA.

What is the best part of your job?

I love being the first one to see the new collections.

If you could choose an occupation other than your own what would it be?

I’d be an international DJ. Travelling the world and making people happy seems like a nice life…plus I’m not a morning person.

What do you consider your worst trait?

I tend to procrastinate.

Who is your style icon?

I don’t follow anyone in particular—I tend to get most of my style inspiration from street fashion.

When and where was your last vacation?

Last Christmas I went to St. Thomas, one of the US Virgin Islands. It was very quiet and relaxing. Lots of beach time!

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

I’ve been told that I say, “That’s crazy” a lot.

What is your most treasured possession?

My music collection. I’m never without my iPod and I have music playing 24/7. It’s a big part of my life—I rarely sit in silence.

Karen shares her 5 key wardrobe pieces on the next page …
What’s your usual (drink)?

Vitamin Water.

What is your greatest extravagance?

NARS makeup. I started noticing in magazines that a lot of models and celebrities wear NARS, so I tried it and now I’m hooked!

Latest beauty/grooming discovery?

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. It’s really light and leaves my skin soft and even-toned—I don’t even need to wear foundation when I use it! There’s also a formula with bronzer in it that I love.

Fashion trend you wish would disappear?

6-inch stiletto heels, they look great but they’re not practical for anyone.

How would you describe your personal style?

Eclectic. I like to mix my H&M with a lot of vintage. I like my clothes to be comfortable and "lived in," not like I spent all morning putting an outfit together.

What are your five key wardrobe pieces?

Jeans, printed/embellished dresses, statement necklaces, jumpsuits and slouchy white t-shirts.

What is on the top of your shopping list right now?

A vintage teak sideboard for my dining area.

What’s the biggest lesson you learned last year?

To take better care of myself and my health.

Describe your perfect Sunday?

Sleeping in, late brunch, shopping, and movies!

What do you most value in your friends?

A sense of humour – I love to laugh and that’s all we do.

What is your Twitter policy?

I don’t Twitter. I feel like I’m already bombarded with so much during the day so I don’t Twitter—it’s information overload. It’s a great way to stay in touch with what is going on if you have the time.

What will you do when you retire?

Move someplace warm and live near the beach.

Finish this sentence:

“People think I’m
outgoing but I’m really

Read more

We play 20 questions with our ELLE compatriot, Joe Zee
Designer DNA: Smythe
Designer profile: Andy Thê-Anh