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Donna Karan (born October 2, 1948 as Donna Ivy Faske) is an Americanmarker fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.

Donna Karan

Karan was born Donna Ivy Faske on October 2, 1948 in Forest Hills, Queensmarker. She grew up in Woodmeremarker, Long Islandmarker with her stepfather, a tailor, and her mother, a model. Karan started selling clothing on Cedarhurst, New Yorkmarker's Central Avenue at age 14. She graduated from Hewlett High Schoolmarker in 1966 and then went on to Parsons The New School for Designmarker for two years. She left to work for Anne Klein. Eventually she became head of the Anne Klein design-team and remained in this position until 1989. At that time, she launched the Essentials line, and her legendary "Seven Easy Pieces." She married Mark Karan in the early 1970s, had a daughter, Gabrielle, and divorced in 1978. In 1983, she married Stephen Weiss, an accomplished sculptor and painter, who would later become co-CEO of the Donna Karan company. Weiss died in 2001.

Karan is the founder of many charities including, most recently, the Urban Zen initiative. On March 14 and 15 2008, Karan organized a huge sale of her personal belongings and vintage company samples at her late husband's studio to benefit the cause. In October 2008, a foundation run by Karan donated $850,000 to New York's Beth Israel Medical Center. The grant will be used for testing whether yoga, meditation and aromatherapy can enhance the traditional cancer treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.[22951]

She lives in Lawrence, Nassau County, New Yorkmarker. She studies Kabbalah and is listed among the top Jewish Fashion Icons.

Donna Karan International

Karan began her career as an assistant designer with Anne Klein in the late 1960s, where she was eventually promoted to associate designer in 1971. When Anne 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 Donna Karan left Anne Klein and, together with her then husband Mark Karan and Takihyo Corporation she started her own business “to design modern clothes for modern people". She showed her first Donna Karan women’s collection in 1985.

What made her initially famous in the industry was her line of elastic bodysuits. She also became known for her very successful 'Essentials' line, initially offering seven easy pieces which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe. At a time when more and more women in America entered the business world and were looking for sophisticated and elegant, yet simple and functional clothing, preferably in black, white or grey, the company experienced tremendous success with its ‘power dressing’ outfits and was loved by the critics in the 1980s. Ms. Karan always insisted that she would only design clothes, like jersey dresses and opaque Lycra tights, that she would also wear herself. Donna Karan was so New York that the New York Times described her as “Ed Koch in a stretchy black dress” in the early 1990s.

In 1988 Karan, nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue by the time, extended her women’s 'Donna Karan New York' line by a less expensive one for younger women, called DKNY. The line was such a hit that Karan can be regarded as the first designer to successfully establish a diffusion line. 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. In its heyday in the 1990s, the Donna Karan portfolio, for men and women, consisted of the top-of-the-line 'Donna Karan New York' collection (black label, couture collection, partly hand-made, limited distribution) and its variation, the 'Donna Karan Signature' collection (golden label, designer sportswear, wider distribution) as well as the 'DKNY' (lifestyle diffusion line) and the low-priced 'DKNY Jeans' (with its variaton, DKNY Active) lines. The portfolio was later complemented by a kid’s collection, beauty products, accessories and furniture. Sales rose up to 510.1 million in 1995 from $96.6 in 1991. More than half of the sales were attributed to the DKNY lines, couture contributed 15% and about 30% of the sales were generated by men’s clothing, accessories, cosmetics and other products. Almost a third of the sales were made in exports.

Donna Karan, Inc. and LVMH

In 1997 Donna Karan quit as CEO of the company, but continues to act as chairwoman and designer in charge of the Donna Karan line. From 2002 on, most of the collection was designed by Peter Speliopoulos, a former Cerruti designer, with Karan contributing little subtleties or even entire new creations. The DKNY line is entirely designed by Jane Chung, a Karan employee since the days at Anne Klein.

In November 2001, the LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) fashion giant completed the acquisition of both Gabrielle Studio, a company that owned the Donna Karan brand and was named after Karan's daughter, and Donna Karan International Inc. for about $400 mio and $240 mio, respectively. LVMH subsequently re-arranged the Donna Karan portfolio: 'Donna Karan New York' for men was discontinued, as well as the 'Signature' lines for men and women.

As of October 2006, Mark Weber is CEO of Donna Karan International.

In August 2008, Donna Karan relaunched her discontinued fragrance lines from the 1990s. These include DK Fuel for Men, Signature, Chaos, and Black Cashmere. They are available exclusively in the United States at Bergdorf Goodmanmarker New York and in England at [[Harrod's] Knightsbridge.

Donna Karan stores

The first DKNY flagship store opened in 1999 at Madison Avenue and 60th in New Yorkmarker. According to the company's web site there are Donna Karan stores in New Yorkmarker, Manhassetmarker, Bostonmarker, Costa Mesamarker, London, Singaporemarker, Tokyo, Fukuoka, Las Vegasmarker and Dubaimarker. The Donna Karan store in Berlin was closed in December 2001. The DKNY label has its own stores, located predominantly in retail shopping malls. Apart from DKNY stores in New Yorkmarker, Costa Mesamarker, Short Hillsmarker, Bostonmarker, Las Vegasmarker, Los Angeles, there are international outlets in London, Antwerpmarker, Tokyo, Hong Kongmarker, Dubaimarker, Tel Avivmarker and Montrealmarker, as well as Cancúnmarker, Barcelonamarker, Ankaramarker, Manchestermarker, Kuala Lumpurmarker, Manilamarker, Beirutmarker, and Athensmarker among others. In addition, there are so-called Donna Karan Company stores, predominantly located within outlet malls, which sell the merchandise at reduced prices.

Since 2005, Donna Karan has offered online shopping of its DKNY and associated lines at the label's web site. Products range from DKNY and DKNY Jeans womenswear, accessories, underwear, shoes, baby clothing, the PURE collection to DKNY menswear. The latter was fully available up until the spring 2007 season. Afterwards, only the DKNY Jeans label, underwear, eyewear, shoes and watches have been offered online for men. In 2009 select DKNY items for men were for sale online again.

The company maintains design studios, showrooms and offices at 550 Seventh Avenue (headquarters) and 240 W. 40th St. in New York City.

Donna Karan fragrances

  • Donna Karan (women, 1992; in limited distribution, including Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK) in August 2008)
  • Cashmere Mist (women, 1994)
  • DK Men Fuel (men, 1994; discontinued -- relaunched exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK) in August 2008)
  • DK Men Unleaded (men, 1995; discontinued)
  • Chaos (women, 1996; discontinued -- relaunched exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK) in August 2008)
  • DKNY Women (women, 1999; no longer sold in North America, but still sold in Europe and Asia)
  • DKNY Men (men, 2000; no longer sold in North America, but still sold in Europe and Asia)
  • Black Cashmere (women, 2002; currently in limited distribution -- Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK))
  • DKNY Energy Women (women, 2002; sold outside North America only)
  • DKNY Energy Men (men, (2002; sold outside North America only)
  • Pure Cashmere (women, 2004; limited edition)
  • DKNY Be Delicious Women (women, 2004)
  • DKNY Be Delicious Men (men, 2004)
  • DKNY Red Delicious Women (women, 2006; limited edition)
  • DKNY Red Delicious Men (men, 2006; limited edition)
  • Donna Karan Gold (women, 2006)
  • DKNY Delicious Night Women (women, 2007)
  • DK Lavender Essence (women, 2005 -- in limited distribution, including Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK))
  • DK Wenge Essence (women, 2005 -- in limited distribution, including Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK))
  • DK Labdanum Essence (women, 2005 -- in limited distribution, including Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK))
  • DK Jasmine (women, 2005 -- in limited distribution, including Bergdorf Goodman (US) and Harrods (UK))


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • She was also honored by Fashion Group International at its Night of Stars gala.


In 2008, the animal rights group PETA initiated a campaign against Donna Karan for her use of fur in products and her contracted Fur Farmers' alleged inhumane treatment of the animals.

On May 17, 2008, protesters, who were eventually arrested, crouched in the yoga ‘rabbit pose’ and covered themselves with fake blood while Karan spoke at the Yoga Journal Boston Conference at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. On September 7, 2008 PETA protesters picketed a Boston, MA Fashion Show waving signs that read, "Donna: Dump Fur." The protesters were dragged off the stage, ejected from the show and arrested. On December 4, 2008, PETA members wearing Grim Reaper costumes and "bloody" fur coats protested again at Donna Karan's boutique in Boston. On December 22, Donna Karan then announced that her fall 2009 lines will be fur-free and that she has "no plans" to use fur in the future. A personal appeal from Tim Gunn, the chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne and announcer in a PETA video, is said to have caused the decision after PETA's 2 year campaign against her and Giorgio Armani.


  1. Li, Kenneth. "MAKING A FASHIONABLE EXIT DONNA KARAN RESIGNS AS CEO", Daily News , July 29, 1997. Accessed June 17, 2009. "The move follows months of turmoil for the Forest Hills, Queens-born designer, who has become one of the world's best-known brands by creating sophisticated yet comfortable clothing that women cherish as both casual and evening wear."
  2. Van Gelder, Lawrence. "INTERVIEW; Her Winning Way With Fashion", The New York Times, October 16, 1977. Accessed September 15, 2008. "And suddenly, at the age of 29, Donna Karan, who grew up in Woodmere, Who lied about her age to begin selling women's clothes at 14 in Cedarhurst, and who now lives in Lawrence, was at the top of her fashion world."
  3. Donna Karan Biography and profiles of fashion designers
  4.   -
  5. Vogue Karan's partner dies (June 11, 2001)
  7. Donna Karan’s Vision Quest (May 21, 2005)
  8. SEC Donna Karan International annual report 2000
  9. Donna Karan’s Vision Quest (May 21, 2005)
  10. LVMH LVMH annual report 2000
  11. Donna Karan fragrances

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