Donna Karan New York

04/05/2013

“I was never in it for the glamour. This is not a glamorous profession. It’s an obsession.You can’t help it.” Donna Karan

In 1984 Tahikyo offered Karan three million dollars to start her own top of the line business and in 1985 Donna Karan New York was born.

Donna Karan & Stephan Weiss
The young designer supported by her business partners - Stephan Weiss, her husband, Tomio Taki and Frank Mori - couldn’t wait to start working again. The future empire was founded at Donna’s home, right there, in her front bedroom, with pin holes all over the walls. Fortunately, the new brand modestly consisted of Donna, Stephan, Alida Miller, their very first employee and soon, Patti Cohen who first met Donna during her Anne Klein days. Working from home had quite a few advantages. First and foremost, it gave Donna an opportunity to spend as much time with Gabby as she possibly could. And then, of course, it was where Donna came up with idea of her brand name.

Donna Karan designs in fashion Vogue & Harpe's Bazaar editorials, 1986-1989
One day Donna was sitting in a kitchen staring at a shoe box. Maud Frizon – Paris – New York, she read on the label and suddenly knew exactly what her own brand would be called. Donna Karan New York described the place Donna loved and the urban, independent woman she designed her clothes for.
Donna Karan Fall/Winter 1987 campaign,
The clothes were quite personal and special, too. Not only they were created for “friends” – women who needed beautiful, stylish and comfortable pieces they could wear day to night. With her love for cashmere and luxurious fabrics that not only “talked”, but were wonderful to touch and wear, Donna Karan came up with idea of seven easy pieces termed “essentials”. The bodysuit (Donna’s invention!), blouse, wrap skirt, blazer, longer jacket, dress and a pair of leggings were designed to be mixed and matched at the blink of an eye and allowed a woman to look effortlessly stylish 24/7. 

“Accent the positive, delete the negative,” became her motto in both her design and her career.

Donna Karan 7 Easy Pieces featured in Vogue US March 1987 (Stephanie Seymour photographed by Arthur Elgort)
Karan was also the one who came up with the boutique idea – instead of having a huge department store big enough to be lost in, she wanted to create small spaces where customers would have a trained assistant showing them how to combine certain things in the best possible way. At first it wasn’t easy to convince the store owners, but they soon changed their mind.

Donna Karan Fall/Winter 2001 campaign
On 3 May 1985 the first Donna Karan New York collection was unveiled and Donna was soon named “the hottest designer on the Seventh avenue” by Women’s Wear Daily.

Donna Karan photographed by Lynn Kohlman & her 7 Easy Pieces featured in Vogue Patterns 1987
In 1988, after Gabby mentioned that her mother’s designs didn’t really fit her, Donna created DKNY, a less-expensive diffusion line aimed to the younger audience. For her it was a big risk and double responsibility and time spent in the office, but as soon as DKNY collection hit the stores, it was sold within days. Her instincts and talent paid off again.

Donna & Gabby Karan photographed by Victor Demarchelier for Harper’s Bazaar USA May 2013
In 1990 Donna Karan was named Women’s Designer of the Year by CFDA. By then her company grew dramatically turning into a structured business rather than a close family affair. The business now employed 350 people and earned over $150 million annually. 

Donna Karan New York ad campaigns for hosiery, socks, eyewear and Signature 1990s
No longer it included Donna Karan New York and DKNY, but Donna’s latest DKNY Jeans, as well as licensed collections of eyewear, jewellery, shoes, hosiery, furs, and sewing patterns! 

DKNY Fall/Winter 1997 campaign
DKNY in editorials 1990
DKNY Fall/Winter 1997 campaign
She’s never stopped… …Creating. Living. Dreaming. Loving. Inspiring. Connecting. A truly remarkable woman, an talented designer and an icon who has always believed in living today and never saying “the end”. Her press releases always have “to be continued” written at the bottom and her collections, just like her incredible life, keep unfolding and merging with the past and the present creating a beautiful future.

Donna Karan New York designs in Vogue US & Vogue Italia 1991-1998
“You have to understand why something mean something to you. {Designing} is my water; it’s my breath; it’s my air; it’s my essence. Fashion is about touch, and feel, and emotion. And it should heighten your senses at every level.”
Donna Karan

Donna Karan New York Spring/Summer 2013 campaign (photography: Patrick Demarchelier)
Photo source: Donna Karan photographed by Danielle Kosann for The New Potato, Donna Karan & Stephan Weiss via Tory Burch diaries, Donna Karan designs in fashion Vogue & Harpe's Bazaar editorials, 1986-1989; Donna Karan Fall/Winter 1987 campaign, Donna Karan 7 Easy Pieces featured in Vogue US March 1987 (Stephanie Seymour photographed by Arthur Elgort), Donna Karan photographed by Lynn Kohlman & her 7 Easy Pieces featured in Vogue Patterns 1987, Donna Karan Fall/Winter 2001 campaign, Donna & Gabby Karan photographed by Victor Demarchelier for Harper’s Bazaar USA May 2013, Donna Karan New York ad campaigns for hosiery, socks, eyewear and Signature 1990s, DKNY Fall/Winter 1997 campaign, DKNY in editorials 1990s, Donna Karan New York designs in Vogue US & Vogue Italia 1991-1998, Donna Karan New York Spring/Summer 2013 campaign (photography: Patrick Demarchelier)

13 comments:

  1. I'v always really loved her lines, her DKNY jeans were the first "designer" item that I ever saved up for. (Not really designer, but I thought they were so expensive and they were worth every penny, I wore them until they feel apart.) I always thought it was so cool that her business started out as a family run one and she seems like one of those designers who really does try to create clothes for every women.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Amazing, simple LOVE it :)

    XoXo
    http://abudhabifood.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Your posts made growing my admiration for her even more. She is amazing, love her quotes and I agree with her words! Thanks for sharing her inspiring and beautiful bio! Have a nice weekend dear! xo

    ReplyDelete
  4. Natalia, I thoroughly enjoyed this blog mini series on Karan. Bravo to you for putting this together. Her life is amazing and I can't wait to see what she does next.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wonderful success story - and there is a further sign for me in your text: how important it is to find the right name - equal if for a project, a business, a kid ... or a blog ;) Btw the name of your blog is a direct hit for me and fits perfect <3

    Wish you a perfect rest of the weekend, dear Natalia!

    xx from Bavaria, Rena

    www.dressedwithsoul.blogspot.de

    ReplyDelete
  6. she is such an amazing designer. thanks for sharing her story

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love her! she's one of my greatest inspirations!

    Xx

    Alexandra

    www.fashion-bridge.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Great post - really interesting to find out more about how designers started up xx
    Mary
    www.littlefeatherstyle.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. She is so incredibly chic - I love her!

    XO
    Pearls & Paws

    ReplyDelete
  10. She is on of the greatest woman of our existence, and geniously talented designer!

    ReplyDelete
  11. An inspiring story and I love the way you ended your article (the last paragraph before the quote).

    ReplyDelete
  12. I really enjoyed your Donna Karan week! As usual, you made me discover so many things about the life of such taented, human designer. Actually, she has a special place in my heart because my first evening gown was one of her pieces...I still remember the day my mom bought it for me in Rome...happy fashion memories! Caterina

    ReplyDelete