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Donna Karan launched her signature collection in May 1985 after a run as co-designer with Louis Dell’Olio of Anne Klein. Her savvy concept revolved around a jersey bodysuit and several mix-and-match items she would dub her “easy pieces.” WWD called it the highlight of the Seventh Avenue season and “New York fashion at its most sophisticated.”
Thus began Karan’s career-long “woman-to-woman” mantra that would become increasingly overt; Karan’s 1992 advertising campaign cast model Rosemary McGrotha as the first woman president of the United States. Over the years, Karan would continue to develop philosophical and stylistic signatures, including the ongoing play of feminine and masculine, while incorporating her love of New York City into her marketing. (“I always loved the sound of NYPD. DKNY has that same energy,” she told WWD upon the launch of her groundbreaking secondary line in 1989).
In 1985, the paper described Karan as “the embodiment of all that is New York—fast, loud, bright, funny, egotistical, demanding and generous.” The same piece also noted that while mulling whether to break from Anne Klein, Karan had attended an est seminar on the “Power of Being.” “It’s as though somebody opened a window,” she said. The spiritual quest would continue, becoming as identifiable with Karan as matte jersey. Many years later, hello, Urban Zen.