After 31 years at the helm of her fashion brands, Donna Karan is stepping down as head designer at Donna Karan International. Her objective? This is just one example of how the iconic designer made clothes for real women. Photo: DKNY. Want more?
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- One of the most influential fashion designers in the world, Donna Karan has left a lasting impact on the world of clothing, bringing uptown New York chic into the mainstream.
One of the most influential fashion designers in the world, Donna Karan has left a lasting impact on the world of clothing, bringing uptown New York chic into the mainstream. From an early age Karan, who grew up in Hewlett, Long Island, was immersed in the world of fashion. Her mother worked as a model while her stepfather made a living as a suit designer.
Karan's family's influence was apparent in her early life. By the age of 14, she had dropped out of school and begun selling clothing at a local boutique. While in school, Karan landed a prestigious summer job working for designer Anne Klein. Her work there proved so impressive that within two years she was named associate designer. By the age of 26, Karan, who was by then married to her first husband, Mark Karan, was named head designer. Karan's ascendency to the top of Anne Klein happened not long after the founding designer's death.
In , Karan, who by then had divorced her first husband, Mark, decided to strike out on her own. At her side was Stephan Weiss, her second husband, a painter and sculptor whose calm demeanor helped offset his wife's sometimes intense personality. With Weiss at her side, Karan left Anne Klein and debuted her first women's collection in From the start, Karan made it her mission to "design modern clothes for modern people.
Her partnership with Weiss was also valuable. Weiss, who passed away from lung cancer in , was said to be the influence for many of her men's wear collections. In , when Karan launched her first perfume, she directed its creators to come up with something that smelled "like Casablanca lilies, red suede and the back of Stephan's neck. Since then a whole host of ancillary products have been created under the DKNY name, from children's clothes to furniture.
As part of the sale, Karan agreed to stay on as the designer of the brand. Over the years, Karan has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Karan published her autobiography The Journey of a Woman in In , she stepped down as the head of her own label to devote her time to Urban Zen, a lifestyle brand she launched in We strive for accuracy and fairness.
If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us! Sign up for the Biography newsletters to receive stories daily and weekly about the people who shaped our world and the stories that shaped their lives. Ralph Lauren is an American clothing designer best known for his sportswear line Polo Ralph Lauren, the centerpiece of his fashion empire.
American fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger created a brand of clothing that was extremely popular with several different communities in the s. Designer Marc Jacobs is powerhouse in the fashion world fueled by the success of his own eponymous label. Michael Kors is an American fashion designer best known for serving as a judge on the popular television show Project Runway. He's also known for designing Michelle Obama's dress for her first official portrait.
Tom Ford is a fashion designer and film director who was the Creative Director of Gucci from He founded his own Tom Ford fashion label in Famous for his women's evening wear and suits, his line is distinctly modern yet feminine. Known for balancing modern designs with traditional elegance, Vera Wang is arguably the most prominent designer of bridal wear in America.
DKNY Stories. Her work there proved so impressive that within two years she was named associate designer. A wedge sneaker that's both comfy and sporty. Slip-on Knee-high Studs at side Origin: Imported. With a rich texture and cool charcoal hue, this luxe faux shearling coat is sheer bliss materialized. With the height of a heel and comfort of a sneaker, say no more.
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What made Donna Karan truly unique was that she represented women not in the way male designers tend to imagine them — decorative creatures to be dressed up like paper dolls, for Country Club tennis tournaments and formal dinners — but as working women who wanted to look chic and feel comfortable in clothes that would take them from subway to office, taxi to restaurant. Her Seven Easy Pieces was a revolutionary attempt to rethink high fashion, starting from the point of view of a modern woman.
Based around her famous black bodysuit, which could be worn under skirts or trousers, it was a wash-and-wear coordinating wardrobe you could roll up into carry-on luggage and pull out uncreased at the other end.
Karan was the leading lady of the era when American fashion went blockbuster. Ralph, Calvin and Donna: such has been the undisputed holy trinity. So it is ironic for her to bow out of fashion now, when a female president is a realistic possibility for the first time ever, because her most iconic advertising campaign — In Women We Trust — acted out this moment back in Karan herself has never been skinny, and she has always been open about having hangups about her hips and thighs, and about being constantly mindful of this when designing clothes.
There is a yawning gap in fashion between the reality most women face getting dressed — trying to find clothes which flatter their bodies, accentuate their favourite bits, skim over other bits — and the charade acted out by most designers in which everyone is 5ft 10in and slender and can wear anything.
Donna was honest about this. She has hosted huge, welcoming dinners at her fabulous apartment overlooking Central Park, inviting editors and buyers into her home. The look? Black lacquered coffee tables, lots of orchids, nubbly throws on low sofas, black and white photographs of Donna with the Dalai Lama. Furstenberg no longer designs her label but remains attached as founder, and is president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if a reader clicks through and makes a purchase. All our journalism is independent and is in no way influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative. By clicking on an affiliate link, you accept that third-party cookies will be set. More information. She spoke up for the female point of view What made Donna Karan truly unique was that she represented women not in the way male designers tend to imagine them — decorative creatures to be dressed up like paper dolls, for Country Club tennis tournaments and formal dinners — but as working women who wanted to look chic and feel comfortable in clothes that would take them from subway to office, taxi to restaurant.
She was championing a first female president in Facebook Twitter Pinterest. Topics Fashion. DKNY features. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations.
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