#WCIW: Donna Karan
Brilliant Career. Passion for Helping Others. Commitment to Changing the World.
Donna Karan was born Donna Faske in 1948 in New York and raised on Long Island. Karan was fashion-obsessed from an early age - leaving the Parson's School of Design early to take the chance at an assistant position at Anne Klein, one of the top design firms in the country. After co-designing Anne Klein for ten years, Donna Karan launched her own line with late husband Stephan Weiss in 1984. This revolutionary women’s wear was created on the foundation of “Seven Easy Pieces.” Karan is credited with popularizing the bodysuit as well as the practical concept of mix-and-match separates that embrace the woman’s curves. Over three decades, Karan’s designs have established her as one of the top designers in the world. Her feminine yet utilitarian style has brought confidence and grace to women all over the world. “Donna created a way of dressing that was womanly, practical and empowering, and came from a deeply personal, instinctual place; she has always let her empathetic heart rule her design head,” said Anna Wintour, the artistic director of Condé Nast and editor of Vogue magazine.
In 2015, Karan left her position as Chief Designer of the company to devote more time to her Urban Zen line, which focuses on conscious retailing. Urban Zen is a collection of Ready-to-Wear and Accessories “made with intention, integrating old world techniques into modern designs.” It is also environmentally aware and friendly and not afraid to take on causes. “Urban Zen is my passion. It’s where all the things I care most about come together: creativity, compassion, and community. It’s a connection of past, present, and future,” Karan explains.
The company also launched the Urban Zen Foundation. This foundation continues to "create programs that assist communities in preserving their unique cultural and spiritual values, allowing us to celebrate their creativity and artistry by working to ensure their sustainability.” Some of the major causes they have focused on recently have included: Fans for Haiti, Education, Healthcare, and the “Not One More” campaign that tackles gun violence in America. Each year, the Foundation honors people who are making a positive impact on the world in the categories of preservation of culture, healthcare, and education through their Stephan Weiss Apple Awards. The most recent honorees were Hillary Clinton, Nadja Swarovski, and Sandy Gallin.