Meet Donna Karan, the famous American designer

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Ernest Sunday

Donna Karan, who is also known as "DK" is an American fashion designer and the founder of Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.

She was born a Jewish to her mother Helen(Queenie) and father Gabby Faske in the Forest Hills neighbourhood of the Borough of Queen, New York City.

Her mother Queenie had been a model and had also worked in designer at Chester Weinberg's showroom. Her father was a tailor and also a haberdashery but died when Donna was at the age of three.

Karan worked for Annie Klein after leaving college. She became head of the Annie Klein design-team. She was promoted to associate designer in 1971.

Annie Klein fashion design

As Klein's assistant, Karan was a participant in The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show on November 28, 1973. She remained until 1985 when she launched her Donna Karan label.

Donna Karan Battle of Versailles Fashion Show

When Klein herself died 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 "to design modern clothes for modern people". She showed her first women's clothing collection in 1985.

Donna Karan First Collection in 1985.

Karan became well known for her 'Essentials' line, initially offering seven easy pieces centred around the bodysuit which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe with her First Collection in 1985. Karan always insisted that she would design only clothes like jersey dresses and opaque Lycra tights that she would wear herself.

In 1988, Karan, nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue, extended her women's 'Donna Karan New York' line by creating a less expensive clothing line for younger women, called DKNY.

Donna Karan DKNY collections for young women

Donna Karan DKNY collections for young women

Donna Karan DKNY collections for young women

Donna Karan DKNY collections for young women

Donna Karan DKNY collections for young women

Donna Karan DKNY collections for young women

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.

DKNY jeans for female

Donna Karan DKNY jeans for female

Donna Karan DKNY jeans for male

Donna Karan DKNY trouser jeans for female

Donna Karan DKNY jeans for female

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.

Donna Karan cold shoulder dress

Donna Karan cold shoulder dress

Donna Karan cold shoulder dress

Donna Karan cold shoulder dress

Donna Karan cold shoulder dress

Donna Karan cold shoulder dress

She left her CEO position in 1997 but continued as chairwoman and designer for the Donna Karan line. After 2002, Karan's designer contributions became less and less. In August 2008, Karan relaunched her discontinued fragrance lines from the 1990s.

In 2015, Donna Karan announced that she would be stepping down as head of her eponymous company to focus on her lifestyle brand, Urban Zen, established by Karan in 2007.

Karan won the Coty American Fashion Critics' Award in 1977 and once again in 1982 (together with Louis Dell' Ollio for Annie 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 nominated for the latter again in 2003 and presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the CFDA in 2004. She won special CFDA awards in 1985, 1986 and 1987.

Donna Karan CFDA fashion award 2016

Pictures of many Donna Karan collections

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

Donna Karan collection

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