Donna Karan

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Donna Karan
Donna Karan VF 2012 Shankbone.JPG
Karan at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
BornDonna Ivy Faske
(1948-10-02) October 2, 1948 (age 69)
New York City, U.S.
Alma mater The New School
Label(s) Donna Karan
  • Mark Karan
    (m. 1976;div. 1978)
  • Stephan Weiss
    (m. 1983;d. 2001)
Children 1

Donna Karan (born Donna Ivy Faske; October 2, 1948), also known as "DK", is an American fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.

DKNY is a New York-based fashion house specializing in fashion goods for men and women, founded in 1984 by Donna Karan.


Early life

Karan was born Donna Ivy Faske to mother Helen ("Queenie") and father Gabby Faske in the Forest Hills neighborhood of the Borough of Queens, New York City. Her family is Jewish. [1] [2] Karan's mother had been a model and had also worked in designer Chester Weinberg's showroom. Her father was a tailor and haberdasher who died when Donna was three years old. Karan and her older sister Gail were raised by their mother in Woodmere, in the Five Towns region of Nassau County, New York. [3] [4] [5] Donna took pleasure in softball, volleyball, and basketball, cut classes in high school, and passed much of her time in the art department. [6] She graduated from Hewlett High School in 1966, [7] and then went to the Parsons School of Design. [8]

Forest Hills, Queens Neighborhood of Queens in New York City

Forest Hills is a mostly residential neighborhood in the central portion of the borough of Queens in New York City. The north, east, and south boundaries are the Long Island Expressway, Grand Central Parkway, and Union Turnpike, respectively. Google Maps shows the western boundary running roughly along 102nd Street, 67th Avenue, and the Long Island Rail Road's former Rockaway Beach Branch; while the Encyclopedia of New York City defines the western boundary as Junction Boulevard and the former Rockaway Beach Branch. The area was originally referred to as "Whitepot".

Queens Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

Queens is the easternmost of the five boroughs of New York City. It is the largest borough geographically and is adjacent to the borough of Brooklyn at the southwestern end of Long Island. To its east is Nassau County. Queens also shares water borders with the boroughs of Manhattan and the Bronx. Coterminous with Queens County since 1899, the borough of Queens is the second largest in population, with an estimated 2,358,582 residents in 2017, approximately 48% of them foreign-born. Queens County also is the second most populous county in the U.S. state of New York, behind Brooklyn, which is coterminous with Kings County. Queens is the fourth most densely populated county among New York City's boroughs, as well as in the United States. If each of New York City's boroughs were an independent city, Queens would be the nation's fourth most populous, after Los Angeles, Chicago, and Brooklyn. Queens is the most ethnically diverse urban area in the world.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States and the U.S. state of New York. With an estimated 2017 population of 8,622,698 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 20,320,876 people in its 2017 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 23,876,155 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


After leaving college, Karan worked for Anne Klein, [9] eventually becoming head of the Anne Klein design-team, where she remained until 1985, when she launched her Donna Karan label.

Anne Klein was an American fashion designer. Her birth name was Hannah Golofsky. She changed her first name to Anne, and took Ben Klein's last name when she married him in 1948.

Sasha Pivovarova in DKNY by Donna Karan Sasha Pivovarova 2.jpg
Sasha Pivovarova in DKNY by Donna Karan

Karan began her career as an assistant designer with Anne Klein in the late 1960s, where she was promoted to associate designer in 1971. As Klein's assistant, Karan was a participant in The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show on November 28, 1973. 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. [10]

The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show was a historical fashion show held on November 28, 1973, in the Palace of Versailles to raise money for its restoration.

Karan became well known for her 'Essentials' line, initially offering seven easy pieces centered 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. [10]

In 1988, Karan, nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue, [11] extended her women's 'Donna Karan New York' line by creating a less expensive clothing line 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. [12] 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. [13]

Karan 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. [14] In August 2008, Karan relaunched her discontinued fragrance lines from the 1990s.[ citation needed ]

DKNY Spring 2012 DKNY Spring 2012 B.jpg
DKNY Spring 2012

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. [15] [16]


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. [17] 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.[ citation needed ]

Personal life

In the early 1970s Donna Faske married Mark Karan, with whom she had a daughter. They divorced in 1978. In 1983, she married artist Stephan Weiss, who would later become co-CEO of the Donna Karan company. Weiss died of lung cancer in 2001. [18]

Karan currently resides in Northwest Harbor (East Hampton), New York, but maintains residences in New York City and the Turks & Caicos Islands. [19]

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  2. Paula E. Hyman (1997 , pp. 26)
  3. Hyde, Nina (31 May 1985). "Fashion". The Washington Post. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  4. Armstrong, Lisa (2 March 2013). "Donna Karan's creative flow". Telegraph Media Group Limited. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  5. Lada, Diana (1 March 2009). "'Donna Karan.' Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 12 October 2015.
  6. "Donna, Karan." Current Biography Yearbook 1990. The H.W. Wilson Company. 1990. p. 352.
  7. "1966 Hewlett High School Yearbook". Retrieved 17 July 2014.
  8. "ALUMNI LIST". The New School. The New School. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  9. "Donna Karan Biography". A&E Television Networks, LLC. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  10. 1 2 "Donna Karan: Milestones". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 October 2016.
  11. "Designing Woman Donna Karan". CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  12. "Donna Karan International Annual Report 2000" (TXT). Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  13. Tuite, Rebecca (2016), "Defining Designs", National Women's History Museum
  14. "Donna Karan's New Vision". 2004-08-23. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  15. Friedman, Vanessa; Bernstein, Jacob (2015-06-30). "Donna Karan Steps Down, in Major Shift for Fashion". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  16. "Donna Karan's Zen Comeback". 2016-11-02. Retrieved 2017-03-20.
  17. Duka, John (27 May 1982). "KARAN AND DELL'OLIO VOTED INTO COTY HALL OF FAME". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 18 November 2014.
  18. "Stephen Weiss, husband and business advisor to Donna Karan, loses battle with cancer, aged 62". 2001-06-11. Archived from the original on 2011-06-11. Retrieved 2015-07-17.
  19. Taylor, Candace (23 October 2014). "Donna Karan Lists in Turks and Caicos for $39 Million". The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved 18 November 2014.