After 31 years, designer Donna Karan has announced she is stepping down from her current role as chief designer of the LVMH operated brand, Donna Karan. There will be no replacement meaning Donna Karan International will suspend its collections and catwalk shows. Farewell to the queen of the capsule wardrobe.
Before starting her own label in 1985, she was the assistant to the American sportswear designer Anne Klein. Karan quickly showed gumption when two days after giving birth to her daughter in 1974, the entire Klein studio was moved to her bedside so that she could carry on designing. Klein sadly died a few days after and Karan succeeded her.
Karan’s vision revolved around form, function and designing for the modern woman. She never wanted to dress women up like pageant girls, instead she wanted to cater to working women who’s desire was comfort and style in clothes that would take them from the office to dinner. Her Seven Easy Pieces was a profound attempt to challenge high fashion. The starting point was her famous black bodysuit which could be worn under skirts or trousers. It was a piece that you could wash and wear or stuff in your carry-on luggage and pull out uncreased at the other end. A timesaver for many women.
Unlike many designers, size zero was not on Karan’s agenda. Admitting that she had issues with her hips and thighs, she knew how hard it was for women to find clothes that flattered them, covered the bits they didn’t like and accentuated the bits they did. Her “cold shoulder” dress, worn by Hillary Clinton, was designed around her theory that shoulders are one body part that women feel confident about as they age. If in doubt, get your shoulders out.
Donna Karan’s decision to step down is a loss for many women. She is a reflection of their wardrobes. DKNY isn’t going anywhere, but it’s not much of a consolation as she distanced herself from the brand a while ago.
All that’s left is the feeling of comfortable pants that, even after a long day and a three course meal, still allow you to breathe.