Fashion Designers


A winning way with fashion - an interview with a fashion icon


‘I was born into fashion,' says designer Donna Karan, as she opens up about her two decades in the fashion world, the various products she has designed and all that she has achieved. An exclusive e-mail interview. 

“Everything I do is a matter of heart, body and soul,” says fashion icon Donna Karan. “For me, designing is an expression of who I am as a woman, with all the complications, feelings and emotions.” With over 20 years of experience in the fashion world, her label DKNY has it all: from clothes, to shoes, to bags to perfumes. And it also caters to men and children too. In this exclusive e-mail interview, Donna Karan talks about her first steps in the world of fashion and what keeps her going. Excerpts:

Why did you name your brand DKNY?

I wanted the new line to be fast fashion, hip and modern. So we wanted a name that would capture that sense of momentum. Then one day I heard NYPD (New York Police Department) and FDNY (Fire Department of New York) and we thought of DKNY. You almost have to say it fast, and it feels very much part of the city's vocabulary.

Why did fashion become your profession?

I was born into fashion. My mother was a showroom model, and my father was a custom tailor. Even my stepfather was in the business. To me, it was natural. I didn't set out to make DKNY world famous, but I always knew that it was an international concept because New York, its chief inspiration, was an international city. From the beginning, DKNY spoke to a very broad audience in cities everywhere.

Did you change styles for different countries?

Early on, I discovered that we have more similarities than differences. The world is smaller and far more global, thanks to the Internet, travel and instant communication. Countries may buy the clothes slightly differently, depending on climate or the preferences of individual customers, but not as differently as you may think.

Furture plans?

I'm excited by anything I haven't done. So, yes, there are always plans to try new things. For example, we have been expanding our Naturally pure DKNY brand, which is made with organic fabrics and we launched the pure DKNY fragrance centred on the Ugandan Vanilla bean, which in turn helps development in the community. It's very exciting to make a difference either in the way people dress or live. For me, that's the ultimate creative challenge.

With clothes, how do you judge fashion? And with perfumes, how do you decide which smells would work?

Whether clothes or fragrance, it has to do with how something makes you feel. With clothes, first you have to be comfortable. The more comfortable you are, the more confident you feel. I want you to put on my clothes, feel great and then forget about them and get onto things that matter.

Comfort can mean a lot of things. If you feel long, lean and leggy, you'll walk a little taller, a little sexier. Feeling good in your skin is the goal, whether it's a tailored suit or a pair of jeans. 

Fragrance is the same thing. It evokes a feeling, a mood, an expression. You wear a fragrance that suits your personality and the moment. It has to feel natural and a part of you.

                 Donna Karan:Designs for today's woman                                                                                  

What is the inspiration behind DKNY fragrances?

DKNY fragrances are like the clothes: fresh, urban and spirited. They're sophisticated and sexy, but in an accessible, approachable way.

Do you distinguish fragrances for different age groups?

I don't think in terms of ages; to me, it's about a state of mind.

When you started DKNY what did you want the brand to do?

DKNY was the other side of Donna Karan New York, my luxury brand. I loved Donna Karan New York, but it didn't address my weekend, street side. I wanted clothes that I could wear to the flea markets of New York, downtown galleries, the movies... Casual, but still sophisticated in an urban way. I also wanted to create clothes my daughter Gabby would wear: trendy, fast fashion that was fun and all about the moment. The other driving force was to create a pair of jeans that would flatter a woman's body.

DKNY started as all that and more, but it's grown tremendously in several directions. Jeans became a way of life onto its own, as did City, Active and Pure. And of course, it grew to address the whole DKNY family: Men's, Juniors, Kids, Babies.

Who are the celebrities you have designed for and who would you love to design for?

I think of celebrities as private people with public lives, so I'm not seeking to dress a particular person as much as I aim to appeal to a kind of woman; one that's creative and passionate in all she does. For example, I recently dressed Penelope Cruz for the Oscars, as well as Jennifer Aniston and Demi Moore for their movie premieres.

Do you feel nervous or scared before a new line or collection? How do you deal with it?
I'm excited and energised by new things. If I think something is good, I can't wait to share it.
How do you feel when you see the tremendous growth of DKNY?

I love what DKNY is today. While it has grown, it also has kept its core identity as a brand born and raised in New York City. To me, that's what makes it successful. It has grown without losing its soul in any way.

What are your other interests?

I love travelling and discovering new landscapes and cultures. There are so many places I've yet to see. But my real passion is my philanthropic foundation, Urban Zen, where we seek to create a community of consciousness of like-minded people. The three initiatives are all near and dear to my heart: patient well-being, preserving cultures and empowering children. It's great to have the profile and resources to make a difference.

What have you learnt in these 20 years?

I've learned that there's still so much to learn! You're never finished. There's always something new to discover and create. At the end of every press release I sign off with To Be Continued, because it's an evolution, one that's forever moving forward.

courtesy: The Hindu
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