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Donna Karan Edit Profile

also known as Donna Ivy Faske, DK

Fashion designer

Donna Karan, also known as "DK", is an American fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels. She has earned a reputation as a world-class designer as well as a strong business-woman in charge of a large retail corporation.


Mrs. Karan was born on October 2, 1948 in Forest Hills, New York, United States. From an early age Donna Karan, who grew up in Hewlett, Long Island, was immersed in the world of fashion. Her mother worked as a model and had also worked in designer Chester Weinberg's showroom. Her father was a tailor and haberdasher who died when Donna Karan was three years old. Mrs. Karan and her older sister Gail were raised by their mother in Woodmere, in the Five Towns region of Nassau County, New York. Her mother then married for the second time. Mrs. Karan's stepfather made for a living, working as a suit designer.


Donna Karan's family's influence was apparent in her early life. By the age of 14 she had dropped out of Hewlett High School (1966) and begun selling clothing at a local boutique. In 1968 Mrs. Karan was accepted into the highly respected Parsons School of Design in New York City.


While in school, Mrs. Karan landed an prestigious summer job working for designer Anne Klein. Her work there proved so impressive that within two years she was named associate designer. A further boost to her career came shortly afterwards as she was made head designer at the age of 26. She remained at the helm of this New York fashion house until 1985, when she decided to strike out on her own, and ‘Donna Karan New York’ was founded. Donna Karan went from strength to strength; her debut line, which she developed during her first six months of motherhood, was so impressive that the Council of Fashion named her designer of the year.

In 1988, she made the decision to branch out and create DKNY, a less expensive brand, which was aimed at a younger market. Such was the success of her latest line, Mrs. Karan followed it with the launch of DKNY Jeans in 1990 and two years after that she launched DKNY for men. The designer had initially dipped a toe into the male fashion market in 1991, when she launched her Signature line for men.

Many more consumers and critics were won over in the years to come by Donna Karan’s designs. These tend to be conceived with real people, not models, in mind, and she prides herself on making durable, wearable clothing, inspired by the bustling and hectic lifestyle of New York. Mrs. Karan became more widely known following the launch of her successful Essentials line, which consisted of several stylish but easy-to-wear garments that could easily be mixed and matched.

In 1988, she launched the DKNY line, which was aimed at younger women and would go on to be hugely successful over the next decade. Donna Karan developed a DKNY line for men, as well as a collection of accessories, jewellery and perfume. Sales of her products increased more than five-fold between 1991 and 1995. Donna Karan opened her first signature store on London's Bond Street in 1996, before opening her flagship outlet in New York two years later.

The designer hit the headlines in 2008 when animal rights group PETA launched a campaign against her for using fur in her fashion lines. Following a number of protests, Mrs. Karan announced in 2009 that her autumn collection would not feature fur. However, she returned to using it the following year, attracting further protests.

Mrs. Karan's philanthropic work includes the Urban Zen initiative, which she founded with designer Sonja Nuttall. In March 2008, Donna Karan sold personal belongings and vintage company samples to benefit the cause. In October, a foundation run by Mrs. Karan donated $850,000 to New York's Beth Israel Medical Center.

Not one to miss an opportunity to advertise the Donna Karan brand, the designer appeared at the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar Party wearing one of her own designs. Stylebistro.com reported that she "rocked the flattering one-shoulder design with sleek, shiny shoulder-length waves, smoky eyes and a deep tan."

Her success in the fashion world is evident: her labels are major fashion powerhouses and she is respected as one of the world’s foremost designers. However, she recently received negative press as animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused her of designing clothes using fur. The group dubbed the designer the ‘Bunny Butcher’ and urged people to "boycott the designer’s collections until she stops using fur."

In 2015, she stepped down as the head of her own label to devote her time to Urban Zen, a lifestyle brand she launched in 2007.


  • Achievement  of Donna Karan

    One of the most influential fashion designers in the world, Donna Karan has left a lasting impact on the world of clothing, bringing uptown New York chic into the mainstream. In 2004 she was the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America as well as a range of other awards.


Donna Karan is a Judaism follower.


Quotations: "Accent your positive and delete your negative."

"I'd rather promote New York than anything else in this world because New York to me means the world."

"Everything I do is a matter of heart, body and soul."

"Today, fashion is really about sensuality - how a woman feels on the inside. In the eighties women used suits with exaggerated shoulders and waists to make a strong impression. Women are now more comfortable with themselves and their bodies - they no longer feel the need to hide behind their clothes."

"I love building spaces: architecture, furniture, all of it, probably more than fashion. The development procedure is more tactile. It's about space and form and it's something you can share with other people."


Mrs. Karan's personality is so wacky and unbridled that it freaks some people out. However, most people put up with it because she is probably the most powerful woman in American fashion today.

Physical Characteristics : Donna Karan is tall and restless and beautiful in an unusual, long-nosed, tawny-skinned way that makes her look as if she just stalked off the African savannah. Her arms and legs are long and shapely and her dark hair falls in silky layers around her face.

  • “Barbra Streisand: "Donna's a little koo-koo."

    Ingrid Sischy: "She made fashion an expression of a way of life."

    Narciso Rodriguez: "'She could take a piece of fabric and wrap it around herself and turn it into an entire collection. She was a real designer that way, not a marketing manager. And she did something very few designers ever do, which is change the way women dressed. Yesterday I got an email from a very successful attorney in Missouri who said when she was a young lawyer, her one dream was to be the in-house counsel to Donna Karan. She felt so powerful and secure in her clothes."”


She married Long Island retailer Mark Karan in 1974 and had one daughter. While the couple divorced in 1978, they remained good friends. In 1983 she married Stephan Weiss, whom she had first met on a blind date ten years earlier. He later became a co-CEO of the Donna Karan company. Mr. Weiss died of lung cancer in 2001.

Gabby Faske - American - tailor , haberdasher

Helen ("Queenie") Faske - American - model

Mark Karan - American - designer

Stephan Weiss - American - artist , sculptor
Stephan Weiss - Husband of Donna Karan

Gail Faske - American

Lisa Weiss - American

Gabby Karan De Felice - American

Corey Weiss - American

Barbra Streisand
Barbra Streisand - friend of Donna Karan

Demi Moore
Demi Moore - friend of Donna Karan

Ashton Kutcher
Ashton Kutcher - friend of Donna Karan

Kate Moss
Kate Moss - friend of Donna Karan