“Everything I do is a matter of heart, body and soul,” says Donna Karan, chief designer of the international company that bears her name. “For me, designing is an expression of who I am as a woman, with all the complications, feelings and emotions.”
In fact, Karan credits her feminine instincts for the success of the company she founded in 1984 with her late husband Stephan Weiss, which went on to become a publicly-traded enterprise in 1996, and then five years later, was acquired by its present owner, the French luxury conglomerate, LVMH, Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton.
Donna Karan International has an excess of one hundred company-owned and licensed free standing Donna Karan Collection, DKNY, and DKNY Jeans stores worldwide. The first flagships opened in London – DKNY in 1994, and collection two years later. When the label launched, Karan was only designing women’s apparel. It has since expanded to men’s, junior’s and children’s apparel, active wear, accessories and a home collection. Karan continues to serve as chairwoman.
Throughout her long career, Karan’s peers have acknowledged her achievements with numerous accolades. The Council of Fashion Designers of America has saluted her six times. In 2003, Karan was the first American designer to receive Fashion Group International’s “Superstar Award.” A year later, Karan’s Alma Mater, Parson’s, gave her an honorary doctorate to commemorate her contribution to the school and fashion industry, and in 2007, Glamour magazine named Karan one of their “Women of the Year.”
Using her company’s visibility and resources for social causes is a heartfelt priority. A member of CFDA’s board of directors, Karan conceived and spearheaded its Seventh on Sale benefits to raise funds for AIDS awareness and education. Karan co-chairs the annual New York “Kids for Kids” events for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, as she has since its 1993 inception, as well as underwrites “Super Saturday,” an annual designer flea market/barbeque founded with the late Liz Tilberis in 1998 to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. To facilitate her many ongoing philanthropic involvements, in 1999, Karan and Weiss established the Karan Weiss Foundation.
Karan’s Urban Zen Initiative, founded in 2007, is the culmination of Karan’s philanthropic efforts, which was founded to create a working structure for advancing wellness, preserving culture and empowering children.
Her memoir, My Journey, is set to be released October 2015.
Karan currently resides in East Hampton, New York while maintaining residences in New York City and the Turks & Caicos Islands.