Discovering A Legend: Donna Karan

Donna Karan

Seven easy pieces made ideally for friends to wear, with aspirations of being a stay-at-home mom this was the early life vision for The Iconic Designer, Philanthropist, Donna Karan. She would go on to revolutionize the Fashion industry with the creation of Donna Karan New York which became the inspiration for the working woman’s office attire around the world. Donna Karan dominated from the runway to the streets with the launch of her hugely successful street-wear brand DKNY.

Karan grew up on Seventh avenue hence being coined the “Queen of Seventh Avenue“ by the industry. Her parents had a huge impact on her career, her mother was a fashion model, and her father was a tailor she was steeped in fashion very early. After attending Parsons School of Design she took a summer job with Anne Klein and decided not to return to school. Anne Klein became ill in 1973 which would lead to Donna Karan being appointed as head designer. Her hallmark was always wearability creating beautiful blazers, sarong skirts, and easy dresses.

Donna Karan 1985

The beginning of a new era by 1985 Karan and her husband Stephan Weiss founded Donna Karan, New York. Her first collection immediately established her as a fashion star. Coined the “Queen of Seventh Avenue” her pieces were based around bodysuits, blouses, and skirts which dominated along with well-tailored coats. Made of luxurious fabrics which followed the body closely these pieces would omit excess detail and overt sexiness creating a sensual allure.

She became the first American Designer to receive the “Super Star Award” from the Fashion Group International among multiple awards by The Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA) Including the “Founders Award”.

Donna Karan Debut Collection 1985

Donna Karan Debut Collection 1985

From Donna Karan New York to DKNY she set out to rule the industry from the runway to the streets. Now a mother grown tired of her daughter raiding her closet birthed the idea to launch DKNY in 1989 as a younger more affordable diffusion line. It featured t-shirts, jeans, mini skirts, sneakers, etc. By the 90s the line would allow Karan to touch the urban streets of NYC making it a go-to brand to name drop in rap songs like “Players Anthem” by Junior M.A.F.I.A during the fashion icon and rap legend Lil Kim`s verse on the hit track.


Multiple divisions would be launched including a men’s wear and fragrance line before the end of an era when Donna Karan New York was purchased by the LVMH group. Karan left the company as chief designer at the fashion house in 2015 to focus on her Urban Zen Foundation, A non-profit lifestyle brand where philanthropy meets commerce. Urban Zen & Donna Karan’s mission has been deeply planted in places like Haiti with initiatives designed to offer support & services to young artisans.

“The world is my inspiration”

Donna Karan

“Women are the change-makers”

Donna Karan

by Keiana Armani-Creative Director


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