|Donna Karan Quick Info|
|Height||5 ft 8 in|
|Date of Birth||October 2, 1948|
Donna Karan is one of the most influential American fashion designers known worldwide for her Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing lines. She started her own label in 1985 which gained popularity for simplifying everyday fashion for working women while keeping their busy lifestyle in mind. Her inclusive collections focused on women of all ages; be it the working woman who is constantly on the move or the DKNY brand which catered to a younger and edgier crowd. With a career in fashion spanning 50 years, her clients have included famous individuals like Barbra Streisand, Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Liza Minnelli, Michelle Obama, Cate Blanchett, etc. Since retiring in 2015, Donna has devoted her time to the Urban Zen Foundation which combines her other passions such as philanthropy, yoga, and spiritual healing. She has more than 90k followers on Instagram.
Donna Ivy Faske
New York City, New York, United States
- Northwest Harbor, New York, United States
- New York City, New York, United States
- Turks and Caicos Islands
Donna studied at the Hewlett High School in New York and graduated in 1966. She also attended the Parsons School of Design, a private art and design college, in Lower Manhattan.
- Father – Gabby Faske (Tailor, Haberdasher) (Died in a car accident in 1952)
- Mother – Helen “Queenie” Rabinowitz (Model)
- Siblings – Gail Faske (Older Sister)
- Others – Harold Flaxman (Step-father) (Businessman), Hilda Goodman (Mother-in-law) (Mother of Stephan), Richard Wyler (Brother-in-law) (Brother of Stephan), Eric Weiss (Brother-in-law) (Brother of Stephan), Gianpaolo De Felice (Son-in-law) (Husband of daughter Gabby) (Pilot, Businessman)
5 ft 8 in or 173 cm
74 kg or 163 lbs
Boyfriend / Spouse
Donna Karan has dated –
- Mark Karan (1967-1978) – Donna met Mark Karan as a teenager and got engaged to him at the age of 19 when she was a sophomore at art school. Following a long engagement, she married Mark, whom she called her best friend, in 1973. However, throughout this time, she had an affair with artist Stephan Weiss whom she had met at the time of her engagement. She ended the affair after she fell pregnant (and wasn’t sure of the father’s identity) but later got an abortion. Mark and Donna did welcome a child together – a daughter named Gabrielle Hope Karan in March 1974. But, her life took her back to Stephan a few years later and she finally confessed to her husband about Stephan. The couple ended things for good and officially got divorced in 1978.
- Stephan Weiss (1967-2001) – The first time Donna met painter and sculptor Stephan Weiss was at her friend’s house when she was planning her engagement party with Mark Karan. Although Stephan was 10 years older and married at that time, the two were so drawn to each other that they ended up sleeping together that night. However, Donna went ahead and married Mark, while never quite forgetting about Stephan. She resumed her affair with Weiss immediately after returning from her honeymoon. After her divorce in 1978, the madly-in-love couple lived with each other for 6 years. Initially, Stephan’s wife Dale refused to divorce him but later agreed to sign the divorce papers. After having waited a long time, the couple finally got married on September 11, 1983, in Long Island. Although they did not have kids together, Donna became stepmom to Weiss’s kids – Cory and Lisa from his previous marriage. Stephan encouraged Donna to start her own fashion company and was fondly known as the Fashion Empire’s other half. Sadly, Stephan was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995. As his condition worsened, the couple renewed their wedding vows and after 7 long years of battle, Stephan passed away on June 10, 2001.
- James John Biasucci (2007) – In 2007, Donna was seen getting cozy with model James John Biasucci, who is over 20 years her junior.
Race / Ethnicity
She is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
- Large nose
- Wide smile
- Birthmark on her upper right shoulder
Donna has done endorsement work for The Tony Robbins Ultimate Edge program.
Apart from it, she endorses her own brands ‘Donna Karan’, ‘DKNY’, and ‘Urban Zen’.
Best Known For
- Being a pioneer in women’s fashion and creating the iconic ‘Seven Easy Pieces’ which included practical items like the bodysuit, a white shirt, loose trousers, a versatile skirt, etc. that embodied a working woman’s wardrobe essentials
- Her philanthropic work through the Urban Zen brand which aims at showcasing the artistic talent from Haiti, and promoting a spiritually-inclined lifestyle through yoga
First TV Show
In 1976, Donna made her first TV show appearance as a guest on the talk show The Mike Douglas Show.
Donna begins her mornings by doing yoga and pilates for 1 hour daily. She is a lifelong proponent of spiritual living and has been practicing yoga and meditation since the age of 18. She also sips on hot water with lemon and green juice first thing in the morning. Her diet plan revolves around healthy eating habits and includes lots of vegetables to keep her active throughout her busy day.
Her typical diet plan includes –
- Breakfast – An egg-white omelet with spinach on the side
- Lunch – A homemade lunch of green vegetables, poached salmon, green soup, and some salad
Donna also takes additional supplements like calcium, vitamin D, vitamin shots of B12, B6, B-100, and licorice to aid digestion. Her go-to drink in the mornings is the protein drink from We Care. She also regularly visits Dr. Frank Lipman for acupuncture sessions.
Donna Karan Favorite Things
- Essential Oil – Young Living Thieves Essential Oil Blend, also the Lavender and Peppermint varieties
- Skincare Products – Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant, Xtend Your Youth Face Cream
- Makeup Product – Black eyeliner
- Lipstick – Honolulu Honey by Nars
- Color – Black
- Pastime – Having sleepover dates with her grandkids
- Art Piece Of Husband Stephan – Birdman (a brass sculpture that looks like it’s taking flight)
- Travel Destination – Costa Rica
- Restaurant In Costa Rica – Playa de los Artistas (Mediterranean restaurant), Koji’s (Japanese restaurant), Couleur Café
- Fashion Boutique – A’maree’s in Los Angeles
- Hotel – Chiltern Firehouse in London
- Restaurant – Scott’s Seafood
- Things In New York – Urban Zen Foundation, Jill Pettijohn’s Nutritional Cleanse, Jivamukti Yoga Centre
- Fashion Pieces From Her Career – The Bodysuit, The Wrap Skirt (1985 collection), The Cold Shoulder Dress, Pin-striped Suit, The V-Front Jumpsuit (Fall 1996 collection), The Dévoré Velvet Dress (Fall 1996 collection), The Robert Lee Morris Collection (Fall 2003)
- Movie – Yentl (1983)
- Vegetable – Any green vegetable
- Part Of Her Body – Legs
- Place In The World – Santa Barbara in Southern California
- Guilty Pleasure – Traveling
- Red Carpet Moment – Cate Blanchett while she was pregnant
- Shoe Designer – Azzedine Alaia
- Book – The 72 Names of God by Yehuda Berg (Based on the Kabbalah principles)
- Food – Cookies
- Word – Love
- Comfort Food – Pasta
Donna Karan Facts
- Donna had an unstable childhood, after her father’s passing, as her mother was known to be temperamental, addicted to pills, and suffering from bipolar disease.
- She took an interest in sports while growing up and played basketball, softball, and volleyball in school.
- Donna was bullied mercilessly in school for being tall, skinny, and flat-chested. Some of the crude nicknames she received were ‘Spaghetti Legs’ and ‘Meatball Head’.
- As a kid, she took an interest in singing and dancing. Her role models included singer Barbra Streisand and dancers like Martha Graham and Isadora Duncan.
- Donna worked as an assistant designer for the legendary Anne Klein in the late 1960s. She became the head designer with her close friend Louis Dell’Ollio, after Klein’s death in 1974.
- After heading the fashion house for almost a decade, she left the company in favor of launching her own design label, Donna Karan in 1985.
- Her mentor Anne Klein passed away from breast cancer in March 1974, the same month that Donna gave birth to her daughter, Gabrielle.
- She became famous after launching her Essentials collection in 1985 which consisted of Seven Easy Pieces that could be combined in different ways to create a fully integrated wardrobe.
- She was presented with the Coty American Fashion Critics’ Award twice (with Louis Dell’Ollio) in 1977 and 1982 for her work at Anne Klein.
- In 1984, Donna was inducted into the Coty Hall Of Fame.
- She met her idol Barbra Streisand for the first time in her showroom at the request of the legendary singer. Apparently, Streisand had fallen in love with one of her creations, a burgundy chenille sweater that was featured on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Magazine.
- Karan is often referred to as ‘The Queen of Seventh Avenue’.
- Donna has created about 20 formal suits for President Bill Clinton.
- After Stephan’s death in 2001, she traveled to Austria with her friend Demi Moore for emotional recourse. She was treated with daily enemas and leech therapy to heal her stress points.
- Donna made several close friends in the film industry like Demi Moore, Meryl Streep, Liza Minnelli, etc. But Barbra remained one of her closest friends and, in the words of the designer, her ‘spiritual sister’.
- Inspired by her daughter Gabrielle, she launched an affordable clothing line for younger women called DKNY in 1989.
- Her cold-shoulder dress was popularized by First Lady Hillary Clinton when she wore it for her First State Dinner at the White House in 1993.
- Her signature fragrance ‘Cashmere Mist’ was created to smell like Casablanca lilies, red suede, and the back of her husband Stephan’s neck. Stephan had designed the shape of the bottle to reflect a woman’s curving back.
- Donna considers a hawk as her spirit animal.
- To honor Stephan’s legacy as a sculptor and painter, Donna founded the Urban Zen Foundation in 2007. The organization aims to showcase the talent of Haitian artists to the wider world.
- She has won the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Awards multiple times throughout her illustrious career. She won the ‘Menswear Designer of the Year’ Award in 1992, ‘Womenswear Designer of the Year’ in 1990 and 1996 and the special CFDA Award 3 times in a row in 1985, 1986, and 1987.
- Donna is a grandmother to Sebastian and Stefania de Felice, the children of her daughter Gabby Karan de Felice.
- In 2004, Donna received a Lifetime Achievement Award by the CFDA for her decades-long contribution to the world of fashion.
- She was one of the first people to publicly defend Harvey Weinstein after his s*xual misconduct scandal broke out in October 2017. Her comments that women who dress provocatively are asking for trouble were heavily criticized by celebrities like Rose McGowan, Mia Farrow, and Sarah Wynter. Later, Donna retracted her statements, claiming that they were taken out of context.
- Her memoir My Journey was published by Ballantine Books in 2012. The book contains a foreword by Barbra Streisand.
- Donna designed the wedding dress of Streisand when she married actor and director James Brolin on July 1, 1998.
- Top models like Cara Delevingne, Emily Ratajkowski, Adriana Lima, Karlie Kloss, Andreea Diaconu, Christy Turlington, Bella Hadid, and many others have campaigned for the Donna Karan brand.
- She stepped down as the head of Donna Karan International in 2015 to focus her attention on her lifestyle brand Urban Zen.
- The French conglomerate LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) purchased Donna Karan International in 2001 while she stayed on as the chief designer. In 2016, LVMH sold the company to the G-III Apparel Group for an estimated value of $650 million.
- Follow Donna Karan on Instagram.
Featured Image by David Shankbone / Wikimedia / CC BY-SA 3.0