Donna Karan, also known as DK, is a well-known fashion designer in the New York sphere. She is the creator of the brand Donna Karan New York, which is more commonly known as DKNY. A daughter in an influential family has its perks, and Karan took full advantage of it as she stepped into the world of fashion very early on in her life.
Her experience allowed her to work with top fashion designers and land a prestigious role. For her work in fashion, she has received numerous awards that are proof of her capabilities as a fashion designer.
Donna Karan has extended her role as a fashion designer and has proven that she is able to include various aspects of her life in her designs. Therefore, her pieces are sought after and are hugely popular. She has left a huge impact on the fashion industry, as she brought together the New York uptown fashion into mainstream clothes.
Donna Karan was born Donna Ivy Faske on October 2nd, 1948. Her mother was Helen “Queenie” Faske. She was a popular model who had worked with designers like Chester Weinberg in his showrooms. Donna’s father was Gabriel “Gabby” Faske, a tailor and haberdasher. He died when Karan was only three years old.
Karan was born in Forest Hills located in the neighborhood of Borough of Queens, New York City. However, the family later moved. Her family was Jewish, and she had been raised so as well.
Karan has an older sister, Gail, with whom she was raised in Woodmere, which is located in the Five Towns region of Nassau County, New York. Growing up, Karan was very athletic and loved to play various sports. She was particularly interested in volleyball, softball, and basketball.
In high school, Donna Karan loved the art department and would often cut classes and spend her time there. Her high school was Hewlett High School, from where she graduated in 1966. In high school, she also sold clothes at a local boutique. Later, Donna Karan was accepted into the Parsons School of Design, a prestigious school located in New York.
While still in school, Donna Karan managed to land a prestigious summer job, where she worked for the designer Anna Klein. Her work with Klein impressed her so much that she was promoted within two years and became their associate designer. When she got the job, she was only an assistant designer, and to climb to such a high role as an associate designer within two years is a massive feat and testament to the talent she had.
When Karan world as Klein’s assistant, she participated in the Battle of Versailles Fashion Show, which took place on November 28, 1973. Anna Klein passed away in 1974 due to cancer. Karan, then began working with Takihyo Corporation of Japan, which became the new owner.
In 1984, Donna Karan finally left Anna Klein, and set up her own brand with her husband, Stephan Weiss, and Takihyo Corporation in 1984. With her brand, her main aim was to create modern clothes for modern people. She revealed her first clothing line to the public in 1985.
Karan’s label was named Donna Karan New York and was also referred to as Donna Karan Collection. Her first collection was called Seven Easy pieces and consisted of a few interchangeable items. Thus, you could switch out pieces and create many looks that could be worn during the day and during the night. Furthermore, they also fit various different seasons. Later in July of 1991, she launched a menswear collection, her first of many.
Many wondered what New York in her label name stood for, and Karan revealed that it was there to set the tone, pace, and attitude of her label and what it had to offer.
In 1997, Donna Karan left her position as the CEO of her company but still held the position of chairwoman and designer. Her contributions declined after 2002. However, she came back strong and relaunched her discontinued fragrance line in August 2008.
Karan fully stepped away from her label in 2015 and announced that she would be instead of focusing on her lifestyle brand named Urban Zen. She had established this brand in 2007.
Donna Karan has won many awards throughout her career. She received the Lifetime Achievement award in 2004 from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Karan also won the Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1977 and 1982.
Furthermore, she was inducted into the Coty Hall of Fame in 1984. In 1992, she won the Menswear Designer of the Year Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA). She was also the recipient of the Womenswear Designer of the Year Award by the CDFA.
Donna Karan had become so popular in New York that she had been labeled The Queen of Seventh Avenue, and rightly so since she was one of the popular clothing designers from New York City.
Staying true to her title, she further expanded her women’s label Donna Karan New York and created a more affordable clothing line aimed at a younger audience. This line was called DKNY and was largely inspired by her daughter, Gaby.
There are many labels and brands that are a part of DKNY but have branched off from the original. Some of these brands include DKNY Active, DKNY Juniors, DKNY Jeans, DKNY Kids, DKNY Pure, etc. DKNY Jeans was one of the first brands that emerged from this brand two years later. It was a denim-inspired collection that focused mainly on jeans.
DKNY for men was also popular and launched in 1992. This line consisted of traditional menswear that included traditional tailored suits, casual wear, sportswear, shoes, and even formalwear.
The brand further expanded to also include DKNY Home, which included contemporary bedding. This line was very fashion-forward, as compared to the Donna Karan Home Collection, which was more traditional and included luxury bedding and accessories.
There were many celebrities that represented DKNY. For multiple seasons during the 2010s, Cara Delevigne was the face of the brand. In 2017, Emily Ratajkowski took over and became the face of DKNY.
DKNY has many stores all around the world, which testifies to its popularity. The first few stores opened in London in 1997 and later in New York in 1999. DKNY’s headquarters is located at 550 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Therefore, DKNY is a New York based fashion label.
Globally there are seventy DKNY and Donna Karan Collection stores operating. There are around twenty stores in China, most of which are located in Hong Kong and Shanghai. There are two stores in Canada, which are located in Vancouver, B.C, and Montreal. There are also four stores in Dubai and another two in Doha. Denmark and Greece also have a few DKNY stores.
Donna Karan has had two husbands and one daughter, and a son. In 1976, she married Mark Karan and took his last name, which she has used ever since as it has become a part of her brand. With Karan, she has a daughter named Gabby Karan De Felice. She divorced him in 1978.
In 1983, she married Stephan Weiss, an artist. Weiss helped Karan greatly with her label and even became a co-CEO of his wife’s company. With Weiss, she had one son named Corey Weiss. Stephan Weiss died of lung cancer in 2001.
Currently, Donna Karan resides in Northwest Harbor located in East Hampton, New York. However, she maintains a residence in New York City and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Donna Karan made a name in the fashion industry for herself by working her way up through sheer talent. She remains one of the most important American designers owing to the implant DKNY has had on the fashion industry. She is also one of New York’s richest fashion designers.
She is on par with legendary women, including Coco Chanel, as she changed the way women dress and how they portray their image in an ever-changing world. Donna Karan has really kept up with the fast-paced and ever-changing fashion industry, and her brand has evolved and changed to fit every trend that has come about.