After 31 years with the Donna Karan New York company, Ms. Karan is stepping down to focus on her Urban Zen Initiative, which she created in 2007 to bring awareness to health care after her husband passed away from lung cancer six years prior.
Donna Karan’s career reads like a love letter to New York women, and looking back at her career and iconic innovations reminds us how much we owe her. Being one of the first fashion designers to incorporate stretch into fabric, Donna Karan has always had women’s comfort—not at the risk of style—at the forefront of her designs. In the same way she outfitted the working woman battling for corporate equality, she crafted pieces to truly live in—slouchy cashmere tunics, leather moto jackets, and cashmere scarves, to name a few. Donna Karan said of her Urban Zen Collection, “If I can’t live, work, travel, sleep—or, yes, meditate in it—it’s not in the line.” You could call Donna Karan’s designs the dream wardrobe for today’s woman on the go.
Her inaugural collection debuted in 1985 and showcased the versatility and sheer genius of anchoring an outfit with a simple black bodysuit and letting layered pieces do the heavy lifting from there. The collection introduced the concept of filling a closet with just “Seven Easy Pieces.” We know, downsizing your closet to less than 10 pieces is a terrifying thought, but just think of how much time this minimal way of thinking could save you in the morning!
Of all of Donna Karan’s revolutionary contributions to women’s sportswear, including the “cold shoulder” dress (which was actually a reject piece worn under Linda Evangelista’s jacket and not meant to be seen, eventually torn to shreds by the media when Ms. Evangelista took her jacket off, then hunted down, requested, worn all over Europe, and brought into vogue by Liza Minnelli), stretch fabric, crisp white menswear-inspired shirts, little black dresses, cashmere everything, scarves, and evening dresses galore, we’re paying tribute to Donna Karan’s legacy by giving the bodysuit trend, which has seen a recent resurgence, a whirl.
Ever since Kim Kardashian wore (or should we say ever since Kanye styled Kim in) a Givenchy black laceup bodysuit during Paris Fashion Week, celebrities and bloggers alike have been going bananas for this foundational formfitting layering piece. We’re planning to bring back the bodysuit this summer by layering it underneath the following: denim cutoffs, black pants with a great denim jacket worn “caped” over our shoulders, black jeans with a wide-brimmed black hat, denim ankle jeans with a pair of black strappy flatforms, a flowy skirt featuring seductively high slits, an on-trend A-line denim button-down skirt, and finally a relaxed pair of boyfriend jeans.