Donna Karan - Biography

Donna Karan is a fashion designer and the creator of the DKNY (Donna Karan New York) clothing label. She was born Donna Ivy Faske on October 9, 1948 in Forest Hills, New York. She grew up in Hewlett, Long Island with her step-father who was a tailor and her mother who was a model. She graduated from Hewlett High School in 1966 and then went on to Parson's School of Design for two years. She left to work for Anne Klein.

Donna Karan

Perhaps most famous for inventing "the body", one of the most practical items of clothing to come out of the Eighties, Donna Karan is now one of the most recognisable names in American fashion. Born Donna Faske in Forest Hills, NY, in 1948, to a model mother and a haberdasher father, Donna was obsessed with fashion from an early age. After two years at Parsons School of Design, she went to work at Anne Klein, making moderately priced sportswear. In 1971, she became associate designer and, after Klein died in 1974, co-designer with Louis Dell'Olio. Ten years later, and with the support of her husband Steven Weiss, Karan founded Donna Karan New York.
Launched in 1985, her first collection, though not radical, delivered a system of dressing entirely new to those used to Eighties power suits. She combined elements of tailoring with sportswear to ensure clothes were "user-friendly and luxurious", as well as deeply flattering. Her clothes are rarely headline-grabbing, but always easy-to-wear in a luxurious blend of cashmeres and Lycras and a sophisticated palette dominated by blues and blacks. Karan is also regarded as being one of the chief innovators of the bridge line: in 1988, she introduced the cheaper DKNY label in an attempt to dress her daughter, Gaby. Today, Karan's company also produces menswear, jeans, accessories, hosiery, fragrance and cosmetics.
In April 2001, Karan announced that she had sold her company, Donna Karan International, to French luxury conglomerate LVMH for almost $250 million in cash. LVMH had previously acquired Karan's license-holding company, Gabrielle Studio, bringing the total value of the sale to $643 million. Following the news, LVMH decided to relocate this most American of American companies to Italy.
In mid-1997 Donna Karan quit as CEO of the company but has officially remained chairwoman and designer in charge of the Donna Karan line. Actually, the line these days is designed by Peter Speliopoulos, a talented former Cerruti designer, with Karan contributing little subtleties or even entire new creations. The DKNY line is entirely designed by Jane Chung, a Karan employee since the days at Anne Klein. Most merchandise is licensed. Liz Claiborne markets the DKNY Jeans and Active brands lines, Est�e Lauder is in charge for the cosmetics business. In 1997, Donna Karan signed licensing deals with Wacoal America for men's and women's DKNY intimate apparel, Esprit for DKNY children's apparel, Phillips Van Heusen for DKNY men's dress shirts, Mallory & Church for DKNY men's ties and hosiery, Peerless Clothing for DKNY suits and sport coats, and Max Leather for belts and small leather goods. In 1998, things had turned for DKNY: a men's dress shirt sells now for up to $125 while a Calvin Klein sportswear dress shirt is almost half. The couture Donna Karan Signature line for men, which was comparable to the men's line of Calvin Klein Collection, has been pulled from the market. As of October 2006, Mark Weber is CEO of Donna Karan International.

Donna Karan stores: The first DKNY flagship store opened in 1999 at Madison Avenue and 60th in New York. According to the company�s web site there are Donna Karan stores in New York, Manhasset, Boston, Costa Mesa, London, Singapore, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Riyadh, Jeddah and Dubai. The Donna Karan store in Berlin was closed in December 2001. The DKNY label has its own stores, located predominantly in retail shopping malls. Apart from DKNY stores in New York, Costa Mesa, Short Hills, Boston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Denver, there are international outlets in London, Antwerp, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, Tel Aviv and Montreal as well as at more unusual locations such as Canc�n, Barcelona, Ankara, Manchester, Kuala Lumpur, Manila and Beirut, Athens among others. In addition, there are so-called Donna Karan Company stores, predominantly located within outlet malls, which sell the merchandise at reduced prices. Since 2005, Donna Karan has offered online shopping of its DKNY lines at the label's web site. Products range from womenswear, accessories, shoes, baby clothing, the PURE collection to menswear. The latter, however, is not being offered anymore for the spring 2007 season. The company maintains retail and office space at 550 Seventh Avenue (headquarters) and 240 W. 40th St. in New York City.