A Trip to Coney Island with Kristen & Karen

Kristen Bateman and Karen Resta are the embodiment of fashion freethinkers — their voluminous layers, labyrinthine love of patterns, and pastel and neon palette is both a shared love and distinct to each.

When we were planning this shoot, we asked them for a list of places around the city they love to go together, and at the top of the list was without hesitation Coney Island. And so a warm spring day was spent together, walking the boardwalk, savoring hotdogs and sweets, and people watching until the fog rolled in.

Read on for a dream day in Coney Island, and a conversation around tradition, individuality, motherhood, and love.

Karen: The first time we went to Coney Island together was when Kristen went to college at Parsons. I’d grown up in NYC but we had lived in other places, so I came to visit in her first year of college and we took the subway to Coney Island - and after that she shared it with her new friends who hadn’t been there yet, who loved it!

K & K's Coney Island Itinerary..

First we look at the souvenir stores before even leaving the subway station and usually decide not to buy anything, then we cross the street to Nathan’s and take some photos! It’s so iconic, I don’t think we’ve ever walked by it without taking a photo. Then we go into the park and look at the Art Walls to see what food trucks are there that day, maybe get a drink and go to the boardwalk. 

On summer weekends there’s usually a freeform dance party happening on the boardwalk - sometimes it’s music from a big boombox, other times there’s a live band or a DJ. Anybody and everybody can join in, there are toddlers dancing and people in their 80’s - all New Yorkers and all loving it! It’s fun to watch or to join in!

Then it’s time for the rides: Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Luna Park. We usually do a few rides and have fun listening to people screaming and laughing on the fast rides then take more photos. The people, the rides, the food, everything is just asking to be photographed!

We might have a bite to eat at Nathan’s on the boardwalk (hot dogs, fries, clams) after that, or some ice cream from Coney’s Cones next door. Then it’s time to take off our shoes and go onto the beach! We’ll stroll along the water “getting our feet wet” and finding shells and rocks to take home. It’s fascinating to see NYC’s famous diversity at the beach - there are people wearing tiny bikinis and there are people covered literally from head to toe in their prescribed religious garments right next to each other swimming in the water.

The boardwalk and beach extend into Brighton Beach, so we might walk along it and into Brighton Beach to go shopping at a fabulous Russian grocery store where you can buy freshly made crepes to fill with caviar and sour cream - or we might stop for borscht and pelmeni at one of the neighborhood restaurants (where there’s a tradition of putting an entire bottle of vodka on the table to share! But I don’t think we’ve done that yet!)

That’s it - we’ll get in the subway there, unless we walk back along the boardwalk and stop to get a haul of candy at the big “It’s Sugar” store, along with cotton candy and candy apples at Williams’ Candy. Then it’s back on the subway and home.

What is your favorite thing about Coney Island?

Kristen: I love the fact that it transports you to a place that feels a little bit surreal. I especially love all the colors, the signage and the food. It’s one of my favorite places to go with my mom! It’s also amazing to go there during the off-season, it’s far less crowded and the scenery is even more surreal. We always take tons of photos there every time we go.

Karen: I love that it’s one of the few places in the city that has not changed over many years. It’s “old-school” in a good way. All New Yorkers are equal at Coney Island, and it’s one of the few places in the city that have that kind of mood. There generally aren’t a lot of tourists and there generally *are* a lot of colorful people there. It’s a place of joy, music, junk food, sun, sand, water, seagulls and New Yorkers in all their glory!

What other traditions do you have together?

Karen: We often color each other’s hair. Kristen’s color at the moment is peach, mine is bright yellow.

Kristen: We also get dressed up to make TikToks together. We love to go to Fashion weeks together - especially in Paris. Plus, we love trying new restaurants, traveling, shopping together and helping each other plan outfits.

Can you make a Coney Island Playlist for us?

 Sure! Kristen will pick five songs and I'll pick five - and they'll probably be really different choices!

Listen here.

What do you most admire about one another?

Kristen: My mom is the strongest person I know. She’s fearless and has always encouraged me to do what I want and to express myself. She inspires me endlessly. I admire her determination and her ability to always be positive no matter what the situation is. Plus, I could listen to her talk about her life stories, from living in New York in the ‘70s to moving to Paris on a whim, forever.

Karen: Kristen is her own person - and she also *owns* that she’s her own person. As her mom, I’ve seen her grow from a very quiet, shy little girl into a woman who stands her own and makes her way in a world that’s not always friendly to women or to artists. She constantly surprises me as an artist, a writer, and a businesswoman, and the fearless way she expresses her personal style is so much fun to watch!

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