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Donna Karan





Donna Karan and DKNY

Calvin Klein. Georgio Armani. Anna Sui. There are fashion giants whose names would be easily recognized even by someone without the slightest interest in fashion – Donna Karan is one of those. Her DKNY label is just one of her many successes, one of the myriad achievements that has made her a household name.

A Woman’s Intuition

With a tailor father and a showroom model as a mother, it is no wonder that Donna Karan became a fashion designer. She is a New York native, born in Forest Hills in 1948, and fashion was always her highest aspiration. Donna spent two years at Parsons School of Design, then began work at Anne Klein, designing sportswear. She was named associate designer in 1971, and then co-designer after Klein’s death in 1974, working with Louis Dell’Olio.

It was with the help and support of her late husband, Steven Weiss, that she began her own label, Donna Karan New York in 1984. Above all, however, she credits her success to being in touch with her femininity, putting her heart and soul into all her work, weaving her feelings and emotions into everything she does. She believes her tendency to nurture and love of beauty helps her balance the practical and the desirable into something that will speak to every woman.

Donna Karan has introduced many innovations during her storied career, among them the simple idea of seven easy pieces. This is a concept in which there are seven items of clothing, which can be interchanged to create an ever-changing wardrobe that is suitable anywhere, day or night, spring or fall, work or casual. Because one never knows what will happen during the day, Karan believes clothes should reflect that, and be able to change function at need. This is why, she says, New York is on the label. Her clothing represents that fast-paced, rapidly changing lifestyle that is the heart of the Big Apple.

Lifestyle is what Donna Karan is all about. Her clothing doesn’t just fit the body, it fits the heart and soul, as well. The reason why she has so many diverse lines of clothing and accessories is because she designs everything as a whole. The handbags match the shoes, which match the glasses, which match the belt, all the way down to the right underwear.

Her DKNY line was developed out of a desire to create clothes her daughter Gaby could wear, clothing that was cheaper, simpler, and faster than the main Donna Karan line. Karan’s instincts applied just as well to clothing for the younger set as it did for the more mature customer. DKNY spawned DKNY Active, DKNY Jeans, DKNY Underwear, DKNY Kids, and several other brands. And just as with her main collections, there were accessories that matched perfectly.

Something for All the Senses

DKNY was just the beginning. A men’s line was created in 1992, first producing fine suits and tailored clothing, then branching into DKNY Men for those casual moments. A makeup line was also developed, and with them came the first Donna Karan fragrances.

The first perfume was Donna Karan for Women, released in 1992. This refined and feminine scent starts with passionate pineapple, neroli, green notes, apricot, bergamot, osmanthus, and peach. A heady floral heart of cassia, jasmine, orchid, rose, carnation, ylang-ylang, heliotrope, and lily rests on a warm smooth base of incense, sandalwood, citrus, amber, cedar, benzoin, tonka bean, vanilla, suede, patchouli, and sandalwood.

The simply named DK, launched in 1994, is considered by many to be a masterpiece among perfumes. This men’s fragrance begins with cold, dry notes, but soon the scent of leather and almond can be detected. It has a certain sense of dark sensuality that is truly unique.

DKNY for Women is as startlingly different and intriguing as the other fragrances in Donna Karan’s lines. It starts out with the sharp touch of red orange juice, green tomato leaves, and cold vodka, then dips into a floral heart of orchid, daffodil, and water lily, with bottom notes of birch and tulip. The masculine counterpart, DNKY Men, is simple, yet sweetly strong, composed of mandarin orange, ginger, juniper, ivy, maple, and sandalwood.

The sight of a beautifully put together outfit, the touch and sound of fine fabric, the scent of an exquisitely crafted fragrance – a Donna Karan ensemble appeals to many senses, which is just how she likes it. Even her collection of home goods is “all about touch and feel” as she put it. Such inspirations are what have made her one of the most famous designers in the world, one who is still going strong today.