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Q&A with Donna Karan

Posted: 17/09/11 00:23

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Photo Credit:Ruven Afanador

Savvy business woman, philanthropist and award-winning designer, Donna Karan was known as 'The Queen of Seventh Avenue.' From clothing and accessories to beauty products and furniture, her fashionable empire continues to flourish in the industry. We caught up with the American designer during Fashion Week to talk about inspiration, her best fashion moments and singing like Streisand.

What is your best all time fashion moment?
I've had way too many to just name one.....starting my company with my husband Stephan and partners Frank Mori and Tomio Taki...when I first opened Donna Karan New York, and the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, including the headline in the New York Times Magazine "A Fashion Star is Born." When we opened DKNY, creating a category of clothes that didn't previously exist...when we took Donna Karan International public in 1996....dressing people like President Clinton and Hilary Clinton...receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA...there have just been so many, many moments, so many honors.

What inspires you?
I've always been inspired by my passions, artistically and personally. I'm very inspired by New York City - its energy, its architecture, its internationalism, its streets. As a woman, designing clothes for my lifestyle - what am I missing, how to accentuate the positive and delete the negative, how to keep it sophisticated, flexible and modern, how to make it transeasonal so I can wear it in any climate. I'm also inspired by nature and all Her glory - the colors, the textures, the landscape. And lastly, my travels inspire me enormously, especially cultures like Bali, Africa, Asia, and most recently Haiti, which inspired my Spring 2012 Collection. I love the sense of soul and tradition, the artisan spirit that is as individual as the woman who wears my clothes.

What is your first fashion memory?
I grew up with fashion all around me. My mother was a showroom model, my father a custom tailor. Fashion was always the conversation at the dinner table. My first job was as a salesgirl at Sherri's a boutique on Long Island, and I put on my first fashion show for a project in high school. From the very beginning, there's always been fashion.

Person you would most like to collaborate with...
I love the art of collaboration and have been fortunate to have collaborated with so many artists, from jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris to most recently the Haitian artist Phillipe Dodar. Most of all, I love collaborating with my design team. I'm always asked how I do all that I do, and the truth is I couldn't without the incredible team that surrounds me everyday.

If you weren't a designer, what would you do?
I'd love to sing like my friend Barbra Streisand and dance like Martha Graham.

Who is your style icon?
It's never about an individual for me; I'm inspired by a universality of women.

What is the best piece of fashion advice you've ever been given?
From Anne Klein: God gave you two eyes, use them!

When you aren't designing, what do you like to do?
I love spending time with my family and friends at home, whether in the Hamptons or in Parrot Cay. I love, love, love yoga. And when I have time, I love to travel. I'm a nomad at heart. The more undiscovered, the more in nature, the more adventurous, the better.

Name three things you can't live without.
My family. My sense of humor. My yoga practice.

Fashion should be more...
Buy now, wear now. Especially now, when the world is so instant and global. We're so connected and in the know, that to show clothes six months in advance of being able to buy them is confusing and frustrating to the consumer. I've been saying this for years....

 

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