Donna Karan Profiles: Fashion Designer Guide

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Donna Karan is an American fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.

Donna Faske was born in New York in 1948. In 1962 she dropped out of school, and started selling clothes at a neighbourhood boutique. After 4 years, in 1966 she enrolled in the prestigious Parsons School of Design. She married Mark Karan and had a daughter Gabrielle, nicknamed Gabby. She was divorced in 1983 and married her childhood sweetheart sculptor Stephan Weiss.

In 1968 Donna took up a summer job with the designer Anne Klein. A couple of months later, she was fired because she said "I was so good, that Anne Klein felt insecure and could not stand me in the design room." Karan's talent drew the attention of Patti Cappalli head of a label called "Addenda" and it was under her tutelage that Donna Karan developed as a designer. Karan worked with Cappalli for 18 months.

In 1970 Donna Karan returned to Anne Klein. In 1974 Anne Klein died of cancer, and Donna Karan completed her unfinished collection. Donna Karan and her Parsons classmate Dell ‘Olio made Anne Klein into one of the biggest and most profitable designer sportswear companies in the USA.

In 1985 Donna Karan went solo, and started her own label, the Donna Karan Collection. In 1988 she started a second line which she called DKNY (Donna Karan New York)

In 1997, Donna Karan quit as CEO of the company, but continues to act as chairwoman and designer in charge of the Donna Karan line. From 2002 on, most of the collection was designed by Peter Speliopoulos, a former Cerruti designer, with Karan contributing little subtleties or even entire new creations. The DKNY line is entirely designed by Jane Chung, who has been with Donna Karan since Karan's days with Anne Klein.

In November 2000, the LVMH (Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton) fashion giant completed the acquisition of both Gabrielle Studio, a company that owned the Donna Karan brand and was named after Karan's daughter, and Donna Karan International Inc. for about $400 million and $240 million, respectively. LVMH subsequently re-arranged the Donna Karan portfolio: 'Donna Karan New York' for men was discontinued, as well as the 'Signature' lines for men and women.

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