"Everything I do is a matter of heart, body and soul. For me, designing is an expression of who I am as a woman, with all the complications, feelings and emotions."
Karan made her design debut at the age of 14, an understandably early beginning for the daughter of a tailor and a model. This early start was followed by 2 years at the New York Parson School of Design, followed by a lengthy career at Anne Klein. In 1989, she left her position as head of the Anne Klein design team to launch her Essentials line which included the now famous "7 Easy Pieces". The concept offered seven easy pieces which could all be mixed and matched and together created a fully integrated wardrobe. This basic design philosophy is the center of Karan's success and can be seen throughout all of her collections and charities.
In 1988 Karan extended her women’s Signature Collection by a less expensive line, called DKNY, for younger women. The line was such a hit that Karan can be regarded as the first designer to successfully establish a bridge collection. Two years later she created DKNY Jeans and DKNY for men was launched in 1992, one year after the Signature collection line for men had been presented. The portfolio was later complemented by a kid’s collection, beauty products, accessories and furniture. Sales rose up to 510.1 million in 1995 from $96.6 in 1991.
Karan sold the lines to LVMH in 2001 for $243 million. No longer CEO, Karan has stayed busy. She has founded many charities and recently relaunched her discontinued frangrance lines. In October 2008, a foundation run by Karan donated $850,000 to a New York hospital to The grant will be used to test whether yoga, meditation and aromatherapy can enhance the traditional cancer treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.
Donna Karan exemplifies the idea of following your passion. Her quest to blend fashion with her belief in simpler living and eastern philosophies has created a fashion empire and many successful charities.