Founder and creator of the DKNY label, Donna Karan has been known as The Queen of Seventh Avenue and the creator of capsule wardrobes.Donna Karan has grown to be a full lifestyle brand for men and women. In addition to apparel, it includes handbags, accessories, lingerie, eyewear, bedding and tableware, beauty products and fragrances.
Donna Karan ( Donna Ivy Faske ) was born on October 2, 1948 to mother Helen (“Queenie”) and father Gabby Faske in the Forest Hills neighborhood of the Borough of Queens, New York City. Her father was a tailor and haberdasher who died when Donna was three years old.
From an early age Karan, who grew up in Hewlett, Long Island, was immersed in the world of fashion. Her mother worked as a mode and also worked in designer Chester Weinberg’s showroom while her stepfather made a living as a suit designer.
Donna indulged in sports, cut classes in high school, and passed much of her time in the art department. She graduated from Hewlett High School in 1966, and then went to the Parsons School of Design.
After departing from college, Karan began her career as an assistant designer with Anne Klein in the late 1960s, where she was promoted to associate designer in 1971. She eventually became head of the Anne Klein design-team, where she remained until 1985, when she launched her Donna Karan label.
Following Klein’s death 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. In 1984, Karan left Anne Klein and, together with her then husband Stephan Weiss and Takihyo Corporation, started her own business. In 1992, Karan also released her “cold shoulder” dress, a jersey long-sleeved dress which featured deep cutouts at the shoulders to reveal the skin beneath.
Karan left her CEO position for her own company in 1997, but continued as chairwoman and designer for the Donna Karan line. In the summer of 2015. Karan left Donna Karan International, after which LVMH sold off the company to mega licenser G-III for $650 million..
In 1976, Donna Faske married Mark Karan, with whom she had a daughter. They divorced in 1978. She married artist Stephan Weiss in 1983. He later became co-CEO of the Donna Karan company until his death in 2001.
In 1984, Karan decided to leave Anne Klein and the following year, she debuted her first women’s collection.Karan became well known for her ‘Essentials’ line, initially offering seven easy pieces centered around the bodysuit which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe with her first collection.
Nicknamed “The Queen Of Seventh Avenue”,she extended her women’s ‘Donna Karan New York’ line by creating a less expensive clothing line for younger women, called DKNY in 1988.Karan also launched diffusion line DKNY in 1989. The youth-driven diffusion line has proved exceptionally popular, and is one of the strongest diffusion line brands in fashion.
A year later, she created DKNY Jeans, a denim-inspired collection. DKNY for men was launched in 1992, one year after the ‘Signature’ line for men had been presented.
In 2001, Karan sold her publicly traded company to LVMH, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, a French luxury conglomerate.Later in 2015, Donna Karan announced that she would be stepping down as head of the company to focus on her lifestyle brand, Urban Zen, established in 2007.
1977: Karan won the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award
1982: Together with Louis Dell’Ollio, she won the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award for Anne Klein
1984: She was inducted into the Coty Hall Of Fame.
1990:The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named her Womenswear Designer of the Year 1990.
1992: The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named her Menswear Designer of the Year 1992.
1996: The CFDA named her Womenswear Designer of the Year 1996.
2003: She became the first American to ever receive Fashion Group International’s “Superstar Award.”
2004 : She received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and published her autobiography The Journey of a Woman.