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BOSTON — For Donna Karan, the words weren’t coming as eloquently as usual, but who could blame her? Within a 48-hour period, the designer had canceled a planned trip to Haiti and flown instead to Israel to attend Kabbalah leader Rabbi Philip Berg’s funeral. The event gathered Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis and many others of his Los Angeles and New York flock.
“Thousands of people put down everything they were doing to be there,” Karan said. “It was the most moving experience.”
As a result of her single-day visit to Israel, Karan was practically delirious from lack of sleep when she arrived here for a fashion show honoring her position as Boston Common magazine’s fall cover girl and the launch of her new shop-in-shop at Saks Fifth Avenue.
“The store at Saks is wonderful. Have I seen it? Well, I saw pictures, it’s wonderful,” she said.
Even tired, Karan could explain the connectedness of it all, why it made sense to open a 550-square-foot Collection space in Saks — “education, women, health care, it all makes sense to be in Boston.”
Because Karan always sets high standards for herself, she went beyond the classic cocktail reception and brought her fall 2013 runway show to the Boston Design Center. Models strutted a long U-shaped runway. Karan sat in the front row next to outgoing Saks Inc. chairman and chief executive officer Stephen I. Sadove.
Karan’s launch is part of a broad repositioning of the Boston Saks’ designer floor. Eight new shops-in-shop opened over the last week. The shops borrow floor space from dresses and intimates. Along with Karan’s, the launches include The Row, Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Azzedine Alaïa, Céline and Pucci, according to the Saks team.
“Boston is one of the most important stores in the country,” Sadove said. The eight new shops don’t just mark important lines now, but “reflect brands for the future — where we think the market and the customer is going to go here.”
For Gretchen Pace, Boston Saks’ general manager, Karan’s is a hot business now.
“We can’t get enough Donna,” she said, citing leather-trimmed cashmere wraps as among top-selling looks.
After the show, Karan strolled the runway waving and thanking people. She took pictures with customers and then departed.
“What I’m dreaming about now is a good bed,” she said.