BOSTON — Leave it to Donna Karan to lead an impromptu meditation session in the midst of her keynote speech Saturday at the Intercollegiate Business Conference at the Hynes Convention Center here. As the designer guided a full ballroom of power-suited Ivy League women through a series of visualizations, one could almost hear breaths drawn deeper and jaws unclenching.
For this event — a career-development day organized by Harvard’s Undergraduate Women in Business club, which draws coeds from more than 70 universities — Karan was frank in previewing the tensions women experience between career and family.
“What comes first is a big question, and it’s a tough one,” said Karan, who flicked through slides of her first ad campaign, in 1986, which featured a harried woman in an evening dress reading a newspaper while an infant plays with her string of beads nearby. She talked about failing draping as an undergrad at Parsons School of Design, and being rejected by WWD when she sought work as an illustrator.
“Get ready to be slapped in the face a lot,” she told the crowd. “Put on your padding.”
Before she triumphed at Anne Klein as its designer, she sharpened pencils, ran errands and fetched coffee.
She injected plenty of humor into the talk, quipping at a childhood slide of herself: “There I was, 10-and-a-half pounds at birth, a fat little baby girl. At that moment, I decided clothes had to fit and be comfortable.”
As one who sees infinite nuances in the color black, she was delighted the crowd was wearing so much of it (that, and arty glasses, were the main sartorial statements).
“God bless black,” she said, prompting applause. Karan herself was clad in an all-noir ensemble that highlighted the amber tones of a large horn necklace and a sleeve of bracelets made by Haitian craftspeople. She called her work with the earthquake-devastated country, for which she recently received the Clinton Global Citizen Award, “One of my life’s highlights.” But for Karan, philanthropy always mixes with good storytelling and her flair for commerce. She flies to Haiti once a month, hopping on the back of a truck to journey to Jacmel, a seaside artist community where she designs and produces items for her three Urban Zen stores. She snatched up the résumé of one Babson College student who stood up to say she’d recently visited Jacmel and was impressed by its workshops.
Inspired by what John Hardy did for jewelry making in Bali, Karan is working with the Jacmel community to market itself globally and to reimagine its traditional arts. Instead of using papier-mâché just to make masks, for example, Karan has reimagined it fashioned into basket-weave totes, which are a much easier sale. She’d like to expand the Urban Zen concept, and plans eventually to take it into e-commerce, although there are no specific time frames on either.
“I believe there’s a place and a space for a collection for a conscious consumer,” she said.
Despite a packed schedule, Karan shook off any notion that there’s a next chapter coming where she’d tend just to the hearth of her family (seven grandchildren) and her many philanthropies.
“Once a designer, always a designer,” she says. “Anne [Klein] taught me that.”
@fearofgod and @maxfieldla have teamed up on a pop-up installation. The store, located in the gallery space across from Maxfield’s Melrose Ave location, is the site of the brand’s House of God pop-up in which Fear of God founder @jerrylorenzo has created a church-inspired installation. A dozen vintage church pews sit in front of an LED screen playing 90s gospel singers in an effort to re-create an environment akin to a Southern Baptist Church, Lorenzo explained. Read more about the pop-up on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: Jennifer Johnson)
Known for his sleek, sophisticated American glamour, Norman Norell is the subject of an upcoming exhibition at @fitnyc. “Norell: Dean of American Fashion,” which runs from February 9 through April 14, will feature approximately 100 ensembles and accessories. His best work is exemplified by the designer’s glittering “mermaid” gowns frosted with thousands of hand-sewn sequins – like the one pictured. (📷: William Helburn) #wwdfashion
For pre-fall 2018, @balmain didn’t let go of the glitz. A crystal embroidered baseball jacket priced at around $40,000 hangs in the “couture” section of the brand’s first men’s pre-collection. Sporting the words “Balmain Army” across the back, the item took around two months to make. “When it was completed, it was like Christmas, it was like, ‘It’s done, it’s exactly what I wanted,’” said Balmain’s creative director @olivier_rousteing during a tour of the collection in a Paris showroom on Monday. #wwdfashion
Eighty degree temperatures and outdoor installations at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach called for bright, elevated beachwear. See more street style pictures on WWD.com. #theyarewearing #ABMB (📷: @lifeinreverie)
Following September’s emotional tribute to her brother Gianni, Donatella Versace wanted to bring the spring show’s deep sense of intimacy to her @versace_official pre-fall collection. Donatella found inspiration in Versace Palazzo in Milan and from Gianni’s opulent apartment. Archival patterns and new motifs were splashed on silk shirtdresses and fitted jersey frocks. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com. #wwdfashion
Demna Gvasalia continues to shake up the Paris fashion calendar — and experiment with new runway timetables for his @vetements_official brand. WWD has learned that Vetements plans to stage its next coed show for the fall 2018 season on January 19 during Men’s Fashion Week in the French capital. Details about the timing and venue have not been confirmed — stay tuned on WWD.com to catch the latest. #wwdnews (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo)
@zacposen's go-to holiday gift? Cookies! "I'll usually bake cookies and send them as a gift," said the designer, who recently released his cookbook "Cooking With Zac: Recipes from Rustic to Refined." Get the recipe for his Brown Butter-Chocolate Chip Cookies via link in bio 🍪🍪🍪 #wwdeye #cookingwithzac
For @monsemaison’s pre-fall 2018 collection, Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim honed in on the brand’s many signatures — men’s wear, which was tweaked and feminized through deconstruction, proportion play and lots of bare shoulders. See the rest of the photos on WWD.com #wwdfashion (📷: George Chinese)
On Friday night, @yohjiyamamotoofficial received the Design for Asia Lifetime Achievement Award in Hong Kong. The 75-year-old designer has been celebrated for many years and is best known for his dark and avant-garde tailoring. “In my long career, in design, architecture, [I’ve been to] so many parties, this is the very first time that I have such a warm feeling, I really appreciate this,” Yamamoto said. #wwdfashion (📷: @dominiquemaitre)