The lauded American designer, 66-year-old Donna Karan, has announced that she is stepping down from her role as head designer of her namesake label, Donna Karan International. The fashion group includes the Donna Karan collections and all of the DKNY offshoots with DKNY, launched in 1989, as well as DKNY Jeans, DKNY Active, DKNY Underwear, DKNY Jeans Juniors and DKNY Kids. Karan has stated that she had been struggling with balancing her time between DKI and her other various projects and had no choice but make a decision. “The clock is ticking,” she said. “I have so many commitments and projects that require my full attention at Urban Zen, as well as my time-consuming philanthropic pursuits in healthcare, education, and preservation of culture. There are only so many hours in the day.” Urban Zen is a separate project, founded by the designer back in 2007, that sells clothing, accessories, jewellery, beauty, and also interior design.
Karan launched her eponymous label in 1984 at the age of 37 with her late husband Stephan Weiss. The company successfully went public in 1996 before it was bought out by French fashion conglomerate LVMH in 2000, for an asking price of $243 million. Since then, Donna Karan International has been ticking over nicely with Cara Delevingne the most recent face of DKNY, Donna Karan’s more affordable sister brand. Karan released an emotional statement upon announcing her leaving, late on Tuesday evening:
“Donna Karan New York is a part of me, past, present and future. It has been an honor to speak woman to woman about Seven Easy Pieces that forever changed the way women dress. I want to express my gratitude and my deepest feelings to the dozens and dozens of colleagues over the years who have helped take Donna Karan New York far beyond my wildest dreams.”
The American designer will remain at DKI in an advisory role, probably a shrewd move seeing as the company could be headed for some trouble without a head designer leading the collections. Indeed, DKI will not seek out a replacement for the time being but instead cancelling the shows and collections for “a period of time.” This comes after a recent upheaval of the group’s managerial strata when the company’s longest-running employee, Patti Cohen, chief of communications, recently resigned after a 30-year tenure. Back in April, the company hired Public School’s famous duo of designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne to creatively helm DKNY, unexpectedly ousting the previous team in place. The designers will present their first collection in September during New York Fashion Week.
Donna Karan International announced it will reshuffle its infrastructure to “substantially increase its focus on the DKNY brand.” It looks like DKI is looking to reposition its franchise of brands to predominantly appeal to the younger demographic. Will it lose the luxury collections along the way?