Donna Karan is the premier fashion designer and perhaps the most influential to appear in America in many years. Karan's impact on the world of fashion is reflected in the fact that she sells more than $ 150 million per year. Furthermore she is also the createro of the DKNY (Donna Karan New York) clothing label.

Donna Ivy Faske was born on October 9, 1948 in Forest Hills, New York. She grew up in Hewlett, Long Island with her step-father who was a tailor and her mother who was a model.

In 1962 she dropped out of school, and started selling clothes at a neighbourhood boutique. After 4 years, in 1966 she enrolled in the prestigious Parsons School of Design.

She married Mark Karan in the early 1970s and had a daughter Gabrielle, nicknamed Gabby. Karan’s daughter Gabby is married to Gian Paolo De Felice, an Alitalia airline pilot. They have one daughter, Stefania. She has been reported as being involved in the Kabbalah Centre.

She was divorced in 1983 and married her childhood sweetheart sculptor Stephan Weiss.

Karan, nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue, began working for Liz Claiborne at a very young age. In the 1970s, she then got a job through her mother as an intern with Anne Klein, where she was eventually promoted to associate designer in 1971.

A couple of months later, she was fired because she said "I was so good, that Anne Klein felt insecure and could not stand me in the design room." Karan's talent drew the attention of Patti Cappalli head of a label called "Addenda" and it was under her tutelage that Donna Karan developed as a designer. Karan worked with Cappalli for 18 months.

In 1970 Donna Karan returned to Anne Klein. When Anne Klein herself died in 1974, Takihyo Corporation of Japan became the new owner and Karan, together with her former classmate and friend Louis Dell’Ollio, became head designer of the house. Donna Karan and her Parsons classmate Dell 'Olio made Anne Klein into one of the biggest and most profitable designer sportswear companies in the USA.

She collected 3 Coty Awards (The American Fashion Designer's version of the Oscar) during the time she was with Anne Klein.

In 1984 Donna Karan left Anne Klein and, together with her husband Mark Karan and Takihyo Corporation she started her own business “to design modern clothes for modern people". She showed her first Donna Karan women’s collection in 1985.

What made her initially famous in the industry was her line of elastic bodysuits. She also became known for her very successful Essentials line, initially offering seven easy pieces which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe. At a time when more and more women in America entered the business world and were looking for sophisticated and elegant, yet simple and functional clothing, preferably in black, white or grey, the company experienced tremendous success with its ‘power dressing’ outfits and was loved by the critics in the 1980s. Ms.

In 1988 Karan extended her women’s Signature Collection by a less expensive line, called DKNY, for younger women. The line was such a hit that Karan can be regarded as the first designer to successfully establish a bridge collection. Two years later she created DKNY Jeans and DKNY for men was launched in 1992, one year after the Signature collection line for men had been presented. The portfolio was later complemented by a kid’s collection, beauty products, accessories and furniture. Sales rose up to 510.1 million in 1995 from $96.6 in 1991. More than half of the sales are attributed to the DKNY lines, couture contributes 15% and about 30% of the sales are generated by men’s clothing, accessories, cosmetics and other products. Almost a third of the sales are made in exports.

In April 2001, LVMH the French giant concern headed by Bernard Arnault, bought out Donna Karan financially, although she continues as Chief Designer. It will have to be seen how this affects her operations.

Another event in 2001 occurred which will affect Donna tremendously. Her beloved husband Stephan Weiss died of cancer. He had been ill for some time. Donna had received his complete support and advice throughout her career and will sorely miss him.

The Look

Karan is inspired by New York; she believes its energy, pace, and vibrance attracts the most sophisticated and artistic people in the world, the type of people and lifestyle for whom she has always designed. Her principle is that clothes should be interchangeable and flexible enough to go from day to evening, summer to winter. Fashion should be a multicultural language, easy, sensuous, and functional, a modern security blanket. Perhaps this explains why her fundamental trademark items, the bodysuits, unitards, black cashmere and stretch fabrics and sensuous bodywrap styles owe great allegiance to the innate style and taste of the artist. There is a great sense of urgency about Donna Karan; to say there are not enough hours in a day would be an understatement. Karan's magic touch is a combination of creative flair and marketing know-how. She designs for human needs, people who live, work, and play. She conceptualizes a customer and wardrobe and can then merchandise a line, applying her designer's eye for color, proportion, and fit. In many ways she is like a contemporary American Chanel in that she analyses women's needs with a question to herself: "What do I need? How can I make life easier? How can dressing be simplified so I can get on with my own life?" Karan has moved from designing the feminine, comfortable clothes that have defined and improved the life of her clients to designs for these customers' homes, and finally to suggesting possessions that appeal to their souls. All the Karan lines, whether for the woman or for the home, respect the busy and chaotic nature of contemporary life.

Who Wears It

Oprah, Barbara Streisand and Hillary Clinton are all fans; Gwyneth Paltrow had several pieces shipped to the set of Proof so she could wear them in the movie. Barbra Streisand, Murphy Brown, Candace Bergen, Michael Bolton, Larry Hagman, Richard Gere, Warren Beatty, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, President Bill Clinton


1992 Donna Karan Eau de Parfum
1992 Donna Karan New York (W)
1994 Donna Karan Cashmere Mist (W)
1994 DK Men Fuel
1995 DK Men Unleaded
1996 Chaos (W)
2000 DKNY (W)
2000 DKNY (M)
2002 Black Cashmere(W)
2002 DKNY Energy (W)
2002 DKNY Energy Men
2004 Pure Cashmere (W)
2004 DKNY Be Delicious (W)
2005 DKNY Be Delicious (M)
2006 DKNY Red Delicious Women
2006 DKNY Red Delicious Men
2006 Donna Karen Gold (W)
2007 DKNY Be Delicious Night Women
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