Q & A With: Donna Karan

Posted online: November 2015

KARAN_MyJourney book jacket“‘How did you get into fashion?’ People ask me that question almost everyday. The answer: I was born into it… fashion was my destiny. Which isn’t the same thing as my life’s dream…” –Donna Karan

Donna Karan introduced her game-changing Seven Easy Pieces fashion collection in 1985, and though she recently stepped down from her role as chief designer of Donna Karan International to focus on her Urban Zen company, she still hasn’t stopped making women longer, leaner, and sexier. In her new memoir, My Journey (Ballantine) she candidly shares about her incredible career and personal life in a way that continues her legacy of empowering women. Karan will be in Santa Barbara on Tuesday, November 10, from 4:30 to 6 pm, to celebrate the launch of her book in Montecito’s Upper Village at Tecolote Bookshop. “My love affair with Southern California is legendary,” she says. “It’s always been one of my favorite go-to stops in the world, the place where so many of my closest friends live. That’s why Santa Barbara was top on my list to launch my memoir, My Journey.” –C.B.

Looking back at your career so far, can you describe what you remember as a breakthrough moment?

I’ve had a few breakthrough moments. The first, sadly, was after Anne Klein’s sudden death and I had to put on a show having just given birth to my baby. I was only 25, and fortunately, the reaction to the show was fantastic and I was named the heir apparent to Anne—a position that had been in doubt before the show. The second breakthrough, of course, was when I introduced my Donna Karan New York line. I had just left Anne Klein and created this little collection for just me and my friends. I had no idea I had so many friends!

What was the most difficult part of your decision to leave DKI?

The most difficult part of leaving DKI was the leaving the family I had worked with for 30 years. The designers, the seamstresses, the patternmakers…. I knew it would be hard, but I didn’t realize how heartbreaking it would be. You work so closely with people they become a part of you and your equilibrium.

You’ve mentioned that Urban Zen is inspired by cultures and arts from around the world. Can you name a few?

I love ancient cultures, ones that hold on to traditions passed on through the ages—the many countries in Africa, the East, and Indonesia. I especially love Bali, which I call my spiritual home because I feel so at ease there. And of course, I’ve recently fallen in love with Haiti, where I’m now working one on one with the artisan communities.

Urban Zen is a philosophy with an aspect of philanthropy. If you could dress anyone (or their home) in Urban Zen, who would it be? If you could address any one issue what would it be?

I can’t really name one person because Urban Zen is so universal. The clothes and decor are so elemental, so timeless that I can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t look fabulous in it or feel right at home with the pieces.

My Journey shares insights into your career and personal life. What was the last book you read that really wowed you?

To be honest, I love art books or photographic journals. They inspire me. I collect so many and I’m wowed by any kind of travelogue that captures nature in all her glory.

 

 

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One Comment


  1. melissaleehealing

    She is on to another part of her life, I wish her much abundance.

    November 23rd, 2015 at 2:24 pm (Reply)

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