"Just about everyone I've worked with has seen my breasts..." admits Donna Karan half way into My Journey, her biography I was so eager to get my hands on. Although it may seem like a little too much information (the boob part, not my desire to buy the book), I adored the unfiltered, uncensored and funny confession! In an ocean of stiff, polished and perfectly worded volumes out there, a simple line like this was a breath of fresh air full of positive vibes and humour - and a sort of story a few women would share over a cup of coffee and a laugh. It was also very Donna - the unstoppable, warm, loving whirlwind of a woman I've admired for years.
I've written a lot about her in the past spending ages collecting little precious bits of information and stringing them together so they would shine, saturate the brain cells with emotions and make you fall in love with her, so we could share the feeling. The problem I'd always have to face was finding the sources to rely on.
Yes, Karan was interviewed a lot. More over, there were even a couple of books written about her back in the 1990s and early 2000s: the earlier ones resembled a scholarly article, and the beautiful and heavy The Journey Of A Woman only contained a few pages of text based on an wonderful interview between Karan and Ingrid Sischy. Neither was enough - the 1990s text sounded dry and matter-of-fact and the glorious book was a kind of story that would stop at a certain point, right there when your mind is yearning for more but having to be satisfied with beautiful photography alone.
And then came the news about the book.
I pre-ordered it as soon as I could. Naturally, first and foremost, it was my way to ensure that the stories I shared on the blog over the last few years were good enough to use as a reference. And, of course, I sincerely hoped to discover something new - the titbits of personal life, inner thoughts, doubts, moments Karan would not necessarily share in an interview, photos I haven't seen before... That sort of thing.
The memoir was everything I wishes for. And more. Just as the title suggested it was a journey of self-discovery that began with memories of the early childhood in Queens and New York, years spent establishing herself as a fashion designer, loves and deaths, losses and encounters, insecurities and triumphs.
Beside being a record of Karan's personal life, the book is also a fantastic source of information about fashion in the 1980s and 1990s. Not only she talks about establishing and building her own brand, finding inspiration and designing collections, but also shares the industry stories from the insiders point of view.
Treat it as a conversation and embrace, a fashion lesson and a word of wisdom, and even a novel because it reads like one.