Fashion Design Icons: Donna Karan and DKNY

Donna Karan is one of the US’s best loved and celebrated fashion designers. Her label, DKNY (which stands for ‘Donna Karan, New York’) was founded in 1989 and in 2001 it was bought by Louis Vuitton. DKNY collections are stocked at the eponymous store in New York and around 70 other stores throughout the world, including the UK, Denmark Canada, Dubai and China as well as globally online. Harrods also stocks DKNY along with other prestigious designer names. 

DKNY gives its name to womenswear, accessories, shoes, underwear (under the sub-label named DKNY Intimates and DKNY Underwear), clothing for babies and children (DKNY Juniors, DKNY Kids and DKNY Baby), make-up and skincare, and homeware (DKNY Home and DKNY LIFE). Men can shop DKNY Jeans (also available for women), underwear, watches and glasses. 

Her key womenswear pieces are still rooted in her 1985 concept of ‘Seven Easy Pieces,’ a predecessor of the capsule wardrobe we know and love today. Designed with professional women in mind, DKNY developed a combination of jackets, skirts (long and short), trousers, scarves and a bodysuit, all in blacks and greys and made from cashmere and jersey materials, which could be put together in any ensemble. This would enable women to buy these key pieces and create a different look for every day of the working week without breaking the bank.

Donna Karen was also responsible for bringing opaque black tights – so flattering and so versatile – into the marketplace, and of course black leggings. Both of these were counted as key elements of the ‘Seven Easy Pieces’ collection and both are still worn by millions of women because of how well they co-ordinate with other items of clothing and how easy, comfortable and becoming they are. 

DKNY’s history of creating highly wearable, sleek and chic designs that can be worn for casual, work or more glamorous occasions has continued throughout the decades. Her designs have featured numerous times at major Hollywood awards ceremonies and on the cover of Vogue worn by several A-list celebrities. Her fragrances, packaged in elegant glass spheres, are one of the most popular brands in the US and UK.
Donna Karan’s style is and always has been about functional yet stylish and flattering clothing for women who want to look good but who don’t want to spend all their time in the morning rifling through their wardrobe for an outfit. The brand’s womenswear draws attention to feminine curves and away from problem areas. 

If you buy any Donna Karan piece, you will instantly acquire a classic that will always look modern however long you keep it. There were many great fashion designers in the 20Karan is one of only a few who is still alive and continuing to give rise to beautiful collections well into the 21st.