Donna Karan | End of an Era

(Above: Donna Karan fashion sketch, Donna Karan RTW Spring 08')
Last week Donna Karan announced she was stepping down as chief designer of her namesake company Donna Karan International and I can't help but feel its truly the end of era. As a huge admirer of her work since my pre-teen years it shouldn't come as a surprise to me how much the news has effected me. In my early days of studying fashion design at FIT I'd often be assigned market research reports and store visits and my first stop was always the Donna Karan Collection store. I'd study the slinky gowns, chat about the collection with the staff and always ask for a lookbook to take home to study and often add to my mood board wall. (This was before photos from the collections were available at your fingertips online.)
(Above: Esther Canadas shot by Peter Lindbergh for spring 00' campaign, Donna Karan shot by Ruven Afanador, Donna Karan RTW fall 99')
Karan has always had a remarkable understanding of a woman's body. Along with sophisticated color palettes in luxurious stretch fabrics, and unique knits, made her consistently my one of favorite designers. Her luxe New Yorker esthetic alway came through in her ads which were regularly shot by the fashion industries top photographers and featuring the most sought after models of the moment from Iman to Esther CaƱadas to Kate Moss and most recently Karlie Kloss.
(Donna Karan campaign shot by Patrick Demarchelier featuring Karlie Kloss and Donna Karan Atelier sketches for Anna Kendrick) 
I met Karan once, it was 1999. I had just began studying fashion design full-time and the meat packing district was beginning to become a shopping mecca, you still had to walk by hanging carcasses lining the sidewalks to get to stores. Those days are since long gone, now its one pristine luxury shop after the next. I was walking around with my dad and asked if he'd mind if we stopped by the new "it" store, Jeffrey. I walked in carrying my favorite black leather bag by Karan (also my very first big ticket bag splurge) and who do I spot but Donna Karan herself shoe shopping with her daughter! Needless to say I was completely starstruck! My dad being my dad made me say hello and introduce myself but its honestly all a daze. I just remember being excited to have been holding my Donna Karan bag at the time. I rarely get that starstuck. So far its only been her and Sarah Jessica Parker that I've managed to embarrass myself meeting. (To SJP my first words were "it's you!?!" So embarrassing! Cut to a few months later though and I found myself working as a wardrobe intern on the set of Sex and the City.) I digress and seem to be going off on a tangent but I felt it was important to take a moment here on Fabulous Doodles and write about how important Donna Karan has been to me over the years and how sad I am to see her stepping down. I don't mean to eulogize her here, I realize she's not gone-gone but Donna Karan and her brand truly made a mark on me, my design sense, and the fashion industry.

Previous posts including Donna Karan:

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Will @ Bright.Bazaar said...

Love these personal posts, B. Great to read about how her designs and work has long inspired you. I know many look to your illustrations with the same admiration.

Brooke Hagel said...

@Will thank you! Thats such a nice thought! I hope my work influences and effects people even a just a touch how Donna's has for me over the years.

Anonymous said...

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