Donna Karan

Founder DKNY & Urban Zen

Donna Karan

Founder DKNY & Urban Zen

Biography

Donna Karan is a one-woman powerhouse, fashion icon and humanitarian. When Donna Karan’s first collection under her signature label debuted in May 1985, her aim was to dress women in comfort and make clothes for professional women that actually acknowledged and flattered the female body. Today she’s the genius behind Urban Zen, which was established to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preservation of culture, and education.

She built her brand by believing in women’s strength rather than playing to their anxieties; in 1992 her iconic “In Women We Trust” ad campaign depicted a female president being sworn in. Calvin Klein once said of Karan, “There’s no question that Donna’s work is an extension of who she is. What she has always been inspired by are American women—they’re working, they’re raising families, they’re involved in every way. She appeals to what we like to think of as the modern woman. She is that woman.”

Throughout her long career, Karan’s peers have acknowledged her achievements with numerous accolades. She won the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award in 1977 and once again in 1982, and she was inducted into the Coty Hall Of Fame in 1984. In 1988, she was nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue and named to the Fashion Designer Walk of Fame in 1991. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) named her Menswear Designer of the Year in 1992 and Womenswear Designer of the Year 1990 and 1996. Karan was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the CFDA in 2004 and in 2007, she was named Glamour’s Woman of the Year.

As a pioneer of conscious consumerism, Donna was among the first to use fashion, design, and style as a platform for change. She is a member of the CFDA’s Board of Directors and launched its Seventh on Sale to benefit AIDS research. Since 1993, she has co-chaired the annual New York “Kids for Kids” events for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and created “Super Saturday” an annual designer flea market/barbeque, founded in 1997, to benefit the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.