Donna Karan: A Fashion Icon

Donna Karan, born on October 2, 1948, is a prominent Jewish-American fashion designer, best known for her eponymous fashion brand "Donna Karan New York" and the abbreviation "DKNY."


Donna Karan, originally named Donna Ivy Faske, was born in the Forest Hills neighborhood of Queens, New York, to an Ashkenazi Jewish family. She was the daughter of Helen (née Ritz), a saleswoman and model, and Gabby Faske, who ran a tailor shop. She grew up in Woodmere, Long Island, New York, with her exceptional parents. Donna began selling clothes in Cedarhurst, a central street in New York, at the age of 14. She completed her high school education in 1966 and later pursued her studies at New School.

In 1970, she married Mark Karan, and together they had a son named Gabriel, often called Gabby. Gabby is married to Jean-Paulo De Felice, an Alitalia airline pilot, and they have a daughter, Stefania.

In 1983, Donna Karan married her childhood sweetheart, the sculptor Stephan Weiss.


Donna Karan's journey into the world of fashion began at a young age when she worked for Liz Claiborne and later trained under Anne Klein, a job she secured through her mother's connections. However, her tenure at Anne Klein was short-lived as she was fired a few months later for expressing her opinions about Klein. Nevertheless, her talent caught the eye of Pati Caputi, the head of the "Addenda" brand, and under her patronage, Donna Karan flourished as a designer for 18 months.

In 1970, Donna Karan returned to Anne Klein, and when Klein passed away in 1974, she became the head designer at the Anne Klein fashion house and won three Coty Awards (the American fashion equivalent of the Oscars).

In 1984, Karan left Anne Klein and, with her husband Stephan Weiss and the Japanese company Takihyo, she started her own business with the aim of designing "modern clothes for modern people." She released her first women's collection in 1985.

Donna Karan became known for creating seven essential pieces that formed the foundation of a complete wardrobe. Additionally, she insisted on designing only clothes she herself would wear.


In 1988, Karan expanded her women's line with a more affordable collection known as DKNY (standing for her name and the city, New York), targeting a younger demographic. Two years later, she launched her denim brand, and in 1992, she introduced the DKNY menswear line. Subsequently, she created a children's line, beauty products, accessories, and home furnishings.

In April 2001, the French conglomerate LVMH, led by billionaire Bernard Arnault, acquired Donna Karan financially, although she continued to serve as CEO for some time before resigning. That same year, her husband Stephan Weiss succumbed to cancer after a long battle with the disease.

Philanthropic Contributions

Donna Karan's philanthropic endeavors include the "Urban Zen Initiative." In March 2008, she sold personal items and vintage samples for charity. In October 2008, the foundation she leads donated $850,000 to the Beth Israel Medical Center in New York.

Donna Karan has left an indelible mark on the fashion world with her timeless designs and dedication to creating clothing that transcends generations. Her contributions extend beyond the runway to her charitable work, making her a true icon in the fashion industry.

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