On Tuesday, June 30, Donna Karan stepped down from her eminent role as chief designer of Donna Karan International. A reigning influence for women’s professional wear, Karan’s departure is a watershed event in the American fashion industry.
The New York Times reports that Karan will continue with the company in an advisory capacity, but her primary focus will be her “Urban Zen line, which centers on wellness and artisanal goods, and its foundation.” Karan founded Urban Zen in 2007.
The company’s Instagram account posted a farewell message today, praising her inspiration and influence. From DKNY on Instagram:
“Over the past three decades , Donna Karan has inspired women around the world to embrace their power and sensuality. When she started her collection in 1985 she set out to simply make clothes for her and her friends. A little collection of simple black pieces that was all about need and desire. She quickly found out that she wasn’t alone - she had a lot of friends out there. Her philosophy of a sophisticated system of dressing, her ‘seven easy pieces’ revolutionized the working woman’s wardrobe.”
French conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton purchased Donna Karan International in 2001 and will oversee the company’s new trajectory. They say there are “no immediate plans to replace her as a designer” and that “the main Donna Karan Collection [will] be suspended.” Moreover, Donna Karan will not participate in New York Fashion Week this September. Their focus will instead be to restructure and “substantially increase...focus on the DKNY brand.” As the brand’s most affordable line, DKNY comprises 80 percent of the company’s revenue.
There has been evidence of discord between Karan and LVMH, but she has emphasized her enduring attachment to the brand she founded. “I’m married to my company,” she declared in a March interview. “I’ll be married to my company whether I’m there or not. I love the company, it’s my baby. Am I still going to design there? I assume so.”
Regardless, her legacy is fixed. Editor of Vogue magazine Anna Wintour describes the timeless elegance of Karan’s designs: “Donna created a way of dressing that was womanly, practical, and empowering, and came from a deeply personal, instinctual place; she has always let her empathetic heart rule her design head.”
Top Image via Getty. Embedded Image via Instagram.