“Fashion is not a glamorous profession. What can really be glamorous about a rag you put between your legs? Fashion’s a business.” — 1974
“Too many designers design for impact instead of reality — that’s why SA is in trouble. Look how many Coty winners are going down. You see them failing right and left. A Coty award is not the ultimate; it’s simply recognition of a job well done. I’d like to win one so long as it didn’t interfere with business. After all, you’re only a Coty winner for an hour.” — 1974
““What do I know? My husband [Mark Karan] and I are plain, simple people — the most expensive thing we own is the $350 tuxedo he bought for Versailles. We live in the suburbs, for God’s sake.
Oh yeah, I want to get myself together, you know, get très chic. Like, I’d never met a Catholic until I got to Parson’s — that’s the kind of Jewish neighborhood I grew up in. Or like the time when we arrived at the hotel in Paris for Versailles; there were hundreds of police and I thought they were for us because we were Americans — what I didn’t realize was that the president of Libya was arriving, too.
“And at Versailles, we were invited to a ball, and I figured a ball means dancing, right? So I practiced up on my dancing and then nobody danced. It was weird. But then, I’m from Lawrence, Long Island, so what do I know? That’s why I’m going to get chic.” — 1974
“Many of the male designers just create fantasy — just costumes, nothing you can really wear. You have to try on the clothes to know how they work — I bet some of those boys go behind the rack and try on their collections. They must!” — 1974
“I see my customer as I see myself — a woman who doesn’t have time to shop, a mother, a traveler, perhaps a company owner. I will design only clothes and accessories that I myself would wear.” — 1984
“I knew that some day I’d go out on my own, which is why I never wanted my name on another’s label.” — 1984
“I’m still scared, but I don’t understand it at all….I just wanted a few friends to wear it.”
— 1985, about the success of the first collection.
“I have a plan that’s all worked out. I’ve just got to hold back so I don’t blow it.” — 1985
“Your whole closet isn’t and shouldn’t be full of expensive clothes. Great pizza is still great pizza.” — 1985
“All you do is go out of your mind, and every day you have to be ready to change everything.” — 1986
“Last fall [for the first solo collection], I designed with myself in mind. I did not anticipate the varying ages, bodies and tastes of the women who would buy my clothes — from a Diane Sawyer to a Patti LaBelle. Would you believe 50 percent of my customers are 5 feet 4 inches and under?” — 1986
“Accessories are so terribly important. The right cuff link, the right eyeglasses, the right handbag. A woman needs it all, so I figured, why not do it all?” — 1986
“I am dying to do a great pair of jeans and other weekend styles.”
— 1988, announcing the formation of DKNY.
“People who know me, know that I hate makeup. I like jeans. I like T-shirts. I like blazers. I like to roll around in my sweats, my Lycra pants, my oversize shirts, my cashmere sweaters. I get home at night, I put on my leotard, my skirt, my shawl. And I’m in heaven.” —1989
“I’d want to cause a shift in the men’s business. Men need a system, a way of putting it all together.”
—1990, before launching her men’s wear.
“I’ve always lived in a leotard and tights. I quickly discovered that making a bra is like nuclear science.”
— 1992, launching intimates.
“For me, it’s all about the body and it starts there.”
— 1992, launching fragrance.
“He’s a natural nose. I listened in on an extension when an astrologer told him so.” — 1992, about her husband, Stephan Weiss, when preparing the fragrance.
“Everyone’s looking for what’s wrong with fashion, and it was really bothering me. It was all tits, busts and vulgarity — Barbie Doll-ish. Is this what women want? I saw it happening in my own company and it scared me to death. True femininity is gentle, not aggressive.” — 1995
“Who wears high heels every day? Is that modern? You can’t get anywhere.” — 1995
“I’m, you know, in this whole discovery mode — meditation, spirituality, fasting, this whole thing, right? But one day we went into town and suddenly this other human being comes out. We thought about going out to dinner, but one woman said, ‘We can only go if we talk without gossip.’ I said, ‘I better fast, then.’ There’s no way I could go to this restaurant and not gossip. You take me out of the context and I’m dead.” — 1995
“After all, if you don’t have the right shoe and the right handbag, you don’t have anything.”
— 1996, discussing DKNY Accessories.
“No, I’m not your typical ceo — far from it. But to take a company from zero to $700 million says something about how we operate. Do we do it by the straight and narrow? Of course not. We cut on the bias.” — 1997
“I had been a ceo for 10 years, yet nothing in my experience prepared me for the challenge of going public. Like having a baby, it doesn’t matter how much advice you get, how much reading you do — until you go through it yourself, you have no idea what’s coming.” —1997
“My modus operandi is that you have to be able to sleep wherever you can sit. The futon way of life does make sense, where a bed is a bed, a couch and a banquette…In New York, where do you find an apartment with a bedroom, anyway?”
— 2000, launching her home collection.
“I defy anybody to go into a store right now and find a towel that works.” — 2000
“There’s so many of the designers here I want to work for. When I saw Dries Van Noten, I had a coronary attack. I’d like to experience other areas of design. I’ve always said I’d love to design Jean Paul Gaultier. MAC, I’ll do makeup. Calvin [Tsao], if you need an assistant in your studio. Fred [Wilson], if you find you need a replacement as the ceo of my company, I’m available….As a woman, I’d like to see a woman standing here next year running for president. Of course, I’m available to do that as well.” — 2003, at a Fashion Group International benefit.
“This company has been through so much, from going public to getting bought by LVMH, that I think it’s just the drama of the whole industry, but Fred got it under control. What every designer desires most is a partner in crime, somebody who gets you and can be your partner. You can have a dream, but you need someone there who can stand behind you and guide you. The search for Fred’s replacement stopped at [candidate] number one. The search began and ended when Jeffry [Aronsson] and I met.” — 2003
“It’s all about perception. Everybody loves New York. I don’t see anybody moving to France or Italy, so why do they all live here if they don’t love it? I love Central Park, I love all the lights and the movies and the theater. I love the view!” — 2003