Donna Karan, 1948

  • Donna-Karan-WWP

Woman Category: Fashion & BeautyWoman Tags: Businesswoman, Designer, and NYC Women

  • HerStory

    Fashion designer and philanthropist, the founder of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.

    Donna Ivy Faske was born in Queens, NYC, to a family of Jewish descent. When she was three years old, her father died in a car accident, and afterward, her mother remarried, and the family moved to Hewlett, Long Island. She grew up surrounded by fashion, her mother was a model and a showroom sales representative, and her stepfather was a tailor and suit designer. As a teenager, she began working in the industry, selling clothes at a local boutique. Straight after high school, she began studying at Parsons School of Design and worked as an assistant designer at Anne Klein & Company. Within two years, she was promoted to associate designer, and at the age of 26, when Anne Klein died, she became head designer of the house, alongside Louis Dell’Ollio.
    In 1985 she launched her label with her second husband. She wanted to design clothes that she would love to wear and “design modern clothes for modern people.” She became recognized for her essentials line – offering seven items that can be mixed and matched. For that, she is credited with initiating the concept of the capsule wardrobe. Three years later, she created DKNY, an affordable fashion line for younger women, and in 1990 she added the DKNY Jeans. In 1992, after seeing the lack of sophisticated clothing for men, she launched DKNY Men. Over time, the Dona Karan brand has grown into a full lifestyle industry, that in addition to apparel, it offered lingerie, handbags, bedding and tableware, fragrances, beauty and cosmetics products, and even home furnishings. Among her regular clients were Barbra Streisand, Richard Gere, Candace Bergen, and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
    In 1997, Karan left her CEO position at her company but continued to serve as a designer and chairwoman for the Donna Karan line. In 2001, she sold the company to LVMH and but stayed as a designer. In 2007, she launched the Urban Zen brand, in which she integrates fashion and philanthropy.

    “I live for what I haven’t done”

    “I live for what I haven’t done”


    More Interesting Anecdotes:

    • She got married twice and has one daughter from her first marriage.
    • Her usual breakfast is s spinach omelet.
    • She was given the nickname The Queen Of Seventh Avenue.
    • As Klein’s assistant, she participated in the Battle of Versailles Fashion Show on November 28th, 1973.
    • She published an autobiography titled The Journey Of A Woman: 20 Years Of Donna Karan.
  • More About Her Legacy

    * The Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award (1982, 1997)
    * Inducted into the Coty Hall Of Fame (1984)
    * CFDA Award (1985, 1986, 1987)
    * Fashion Group International's "Superstar Award" (2003) - the first American designer to receive the award
    * The Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (2004)

  • Watch and Learn More

  • One of Her Landmarks

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  • Connecting all the dots | Donna Karan

    In this contemplative talk, fashion designer Donna Karan talks with Pat Mitchell about the ways in which birth and death inform creativity. She retells her own fascinating story, from the death of those close to her, her work with Anne Klein and the ways her history informs her present.
    TEDArchive presents previously unpublished talks from TED conferences.
    Enjoy this unedited talk by Donna Karan.
    Filmed at TEDWomen 2010.
    NOTE: Comments are disabled on this video. We made this difficult decision for the TED Archive because we believe that a well-moderated conversation allows for better commentary from more people and more viewpoints. Studies show that aggressive and hateful comments silence other commenters and drive them away; unfortunately, YouTube's comment moderation tools are simply not up to the task of allowing us to monitor comments on so many videos at once. (We'd love to see this change, YouTube.) So for now, if you'd like to comment on this talk, please use Facebook, Twitter or G+ to discuss with your networks.

  • Photo credit - Shutterstock