Early lifeKaran was born October 2, 1948 in Forest Hills, Queens, USA. She grew up in Woodmere, Long Island, New York, with her stepfather, a tailor, and her mother, a model. Karan started selling clothing on Cedarhurst, New York's Central Avenue at age 14.
She graduated from Hewlett High School in 1966, and then went to the Parsons School of Design (later known as Parsons the New School for Design after it became a division of The New School), for two years. She left to work for Anne Klein.
CareerAfter leaving college, Karan worked for Anne Klein, eventually becoming head of the Anne Klein design-team, where she remained until 1985, when she launched her eponymous Donna Karan label.
Karan became well-known for her 'Essentials' line, initially offering seven easy pieces which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe. Karan always insisted that she would only design clothes, like jersey dresses and opaque Lycra tights, that she would also wear herself. She was once described in the early 1990s by the New York Times as “[Ed Koch] in a stretchy black dress”.
In 1988, Karan, nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue by the time, extended her women's 'Donna Karan New York' line by a less expensive one for younger women, called DKNY. Two years 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 its heyday in the 1990s, the Donna Karan portfolio, for men and women, consisted of the top-of-the-line DKNY collection (black label, couture collection, partly hand-made, limited distribution) and its variation, the 'Donna Karan Signature' collection (golden label, designer sportswear, wider distribution), the DKNY lifestyle diffusion line, and the lower-priced DKNY Jeans (and DKNY Active) lines. The portfolio was later complemented by a children's collection, beauty products, accessories and furniture. Sales rose up to 510.1 million in 1995 from $96.6 in 1991. More than half of the sales were attributed to the DKNY lines, couture contributed 15% and about 30% of the sales were generated by men’s clothing, accessories, cosmetics and other products. Almost a third of the sales were made in exports.
Donna Karan, Inc. and LVMH
In November 2000, the LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) fashion giant completed the acquisition of both Gabrielle Studio, a company that owned the Donna Karan brand and was named after Karan's daughter, and Donna Karan International Inc. for about $400 million and $240 million, respectively. LVMH subsequently re-arranged the Donna Karan portfolio: 'Donna Karan New York' for men was discontinued, as well as the 'Signature' lines for men and women.
In August 2008, Donna Karan relaunched her discontinued fragrance lines from the 1990s. These include DK Fuel for Men, Signature, Chaos, and Black Cashmere. They are available exclusively in the United States at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Manhattan and at Harrod's, Knightsbridge, London.
Donna Karan stores
Since 2005, Karan has offered online shopping of its DKNY and associated lines at the label's web site.
The company maintains design studios, showrooms and offices at 550 Seventh Avenue (Manhattan) (headquarters) and 240 W. 40th St. in New York City.
PETA protestsIn 2008, the animal rights group PETA initiated a campaign against Donna Karan for her use of fur in products and her contracted Fur Farmers' alleged inhumane treatment of the animals.
On May 17, 2008, protesters, who were eventually arrested, crouched in the yoga ‘rabbit pose’ and covered themselves with fake blood while Karan spoke at the Yoga Journal Boston Conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. On September 7, 2008, PETA protesters picketed a Boston fashion show by waving signs reading: "Donna: Dump Fur." On December 4, 2008, PETA members wearing Grim Reaper costumes and "bloody" fur coats protested at Karan's boutique in Boston. On December 22, Donna Karan announced that her fall 2009 lines would be fur-free and stated that she had "no plans" to use fur in the future. A personal appeal from Tim Gunn, the chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne and announcer in a PETA video, is said to have influenced the decision after PETA's two year campaign against her and Giorgio Armani.
However, by the Fall of 2010, Karan's fall collection once again included fur items, including jackets and vests. In response to this, PETA held a demonstration on October 19, 2010 near a Democratic fundraiser in Donna Karan’s penthouse. At the event, which was organized by Karan and first lady Michelle Obama, the PETA protestors held placards that called Karan, "Bunny Butcher." PETA protests against Karan because they allege that the fur industry kills 50 million animals, many of which are skinned alive.
On November 29, 2010, 16 different PETA profiles posted a vertical message on Karan's Facebook page that read "DK BUNNY BUTCHER." Each profile picture represented a letter in the message. "Bunny Butcher" is the nickname given to Karan by the organization for using rabbit fur in her collections.
- Karan won the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award in 1977 and once again in 1982 (together with Louis Dell’Ollio for Anne Klein).
- She was inducted into the Coty Hall Of Fame in 1984.
- The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named her Menswear Designer of the Year 1992 and Womenswear Designer of the Year 1990 and 1996. She was a nominee for the latter again in 2003 and was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the CFDA in 2004. She won special CFDA awards in 1985, 1986 and 1987.
|Stephen Weiss & Donna Karen|