“Everything I do is a matter of mind, body and spirit,” says Donna Karan, founder and chief designer of the international company that bears her name. “For me, designing is an expression of who I am as a woman, with all the complications, feelings and emotions... the fact that I am a woman, makes me want to nurture others, fulfill needs and solve problems. At the same time, the artist within me strives for beauty, both sensually and visually. So design is a constant challenge to balance comfort with luxe, the practical with the desirable.”
Donna Karan credits her feminine instincts for the success of the company she founded in 1984 with her late husband Stephan Weiss. A modern system of dressing, Karan’s concept is based on seven easy pieces, where a handful of interchangeable items work together to create an entire wardrobe that goes from day to evening, weekday to weekend, season to season. For Karan, it’s never been just about clothes; it’s about lifestyles.
Karan’s quest for the perfect jeans, as well as her desire to dress her daughter Gabby, resulted in the 1989 birth of DKNY. It grew so popular and diverse that other brands and labels spun from it, including DKNY Jeans, DKNY Active, DKNY Underwear, DKNY Jeans Juniors, and DKNY Kids. Like collection, DKNY has an accessories and shoe collection to underscore its New York City street-smart look.
Determined to seduce all the senses, Karan took on the world of beauty in 1992. The beauty division went on to introduce best-selling fragrances. Completing the lifestyle approach to design, in 2001 Karan introduced a Donna Karan Home Collection.
Throughout her long career, Karan’s peers have acknowledged her achievements with numerous accolades. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has saluted her six times. In 2003, Karan was the first American designer to receive Fashion Group International’s “Superstar Award”. A year later, Karan’s Alma Mater Parson’s gave her an honorary doctorate to commemorate her contribution to the school and fashion industry, and, in 2007, Glamour Magazine named Karan one of their Women of the Year. In 2008, she will be named the “Woman of the 21st Century” Women’s Guild of Cedar-Sinai Medical Center.
Using her company’s visibility and resources for social causes is a heartfelt priority. A member of CFDA’s Board of Directors, Karan conceived and spearheaded its Seventh on Sale benefits to raise funds for AIDS awareness and education. Karan co-chairs the Annual New York “Kids For Kids” events for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, as she has since its 1993 inception. She also underwrites “Super Saturday”: an annual designer flea market/barbeque founded with the late Liz Tilberis Philanthropic Involvements. In 1999, Karan and Weiss established the Karan Weiss Foundation.
In 2006, Donna founded the Urban Zen Initiative to play an active role that raises awareness and inspires change by promoting well-being, preservation of culture and empowering children through forums and special events. Through its partnerships with foundations, corporate sponsors and private donors, it serves as a catalyst for collaboration which co-develops pilot projects for its three programs. The Urban Zen Initiative will endeavor to raise funds for existing charitable organizations. It envisions a world where people embrace the vital connection between mind, body, and spirit in order to live healthier lives.
Establishment of the Urban Zen brand which exists to create sustainable revenue streams that supports the Urban Zen Initiative through a percentage of sales of clothing, educational and media materials, and lifestyle products for each of our programs.
Donna is committed to use her heart, her creativity and her resources to make a difference to these global causes that mean the world to her.