FASHION WEEK, SPRING 2014

Fashion Week is exhilarating and exhausting. In the space of two days, we had two shows and a fabulous 25th anniversary celebration for DKNY.  And that doesn’t count all the other things going on, including a DKNY Men’s presentation the week before. Oh, and did I mention the Jewish holidays fell the same week? Whew…Here’s a glimpse into the week that was.

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Can you believe DKNY is 25 years old?!?! And still going strong, with street-smart pieces that could only come from New York. Hard to choose, but this was my favorite.

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The amazing Rita Ora not only sang at our party, she rocked her way down the catwalk. Just look at her spirit and energy.

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Closing the show. No matter how much I try, I can never get Jane Chung – my DKNY partner-in-designer from the very beginning – to walk the runway with me.

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Collection. One of our inspirations…..It all started in search for a scarf….

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How to turn the sensuality of a handblocked scarf into a chic urban wardrobe.

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The palette? Blue waters and skies….sunsets and rises.

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Look #1, Look #9 and Look #32

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The Artisan cutwork shopper bag – small, medium and large - I’m obsessed!

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Collection ankle-strap shoes….I love the heels, but you’ll see me in the flats.

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Happy 25th Birthday, DKNY!

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Me with Karlie and Joan.

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Chanel, A$AP & me.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful start to fall, full of health, happiness and lots of cashmere.  

                                                                                                                               All my love,

Goodbye Summer!

Boating in Ibiza

Can you believe the summer’s come and gone? It always goes by too quickly, but this one really flew.  I started the summer traveling – India, Israel and Ibiza (above.)  (Funny how they all start with the letter I.) This week, as I ready for our Donna Karan runway show, I’ve been working with all the amazing Indian scarves that inspired the collection.  Yet, in between my world traveling and the return to the New York fashion world, I came home to the Hamptons, where I’ve spent every summer for as long as I can remember.

I start my day at Yoga Shanti in Sag Harbor, taking a class with Rodney Yee or Colleen Saidman Yee.  Then I go to my Urban Zen store, which is right next door to my daughter Gabby’s restaurant Tutto il Giorno, where we meet friends and family for lunch or dinner.

Rodney and Me

Colleen and me

My favorite part of the summer is spending time with my grandkids. Stephania is all about horseback riding, and also went to camp for the first time – which she loved. And you can see in this picture of Sebastian, how he’s already like his father and my Stephan with his love of bikes.

Polo in the Hamptons

Sebastian and Me on a motorcycle

Stefania and her favorite horse

Steph on the plane

The Hamptons is a mecca for fundraising.  Our Super Saturday – the annual designer sale to benefit Ovarian Cancer Research Fund – was 16 years old and more successful than ever, raising over $3.5 million.

Super Saturday 16

Urban Zen sponsored “Haiti in the Hamptons.”  We featured four amazingly talented women – Caroline Sadar, Pascale Theard, Paula Coles, and Shelley Clay - whom I consider the mothers of Haiti.  I had arranged for them to stay at my house. It was wonderful to introduce them to Rodney and Colleen and their family, as well as my friend and fellow Hamptonite Christie Brinkley.

Haiti in the Hamptons

Somewhere in all of this, I went to the opening of my friend Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort and Spa in Middleburg, Virginia. What an amazing work of love.  It has everything for everyone – including a wellness spa and an equestrian program. It’s a stunning property, 35 minutes away from DC.  My secret hope is it that it helps promote the importance of wellness to those in charge in Washington.

Sheila Johnson

Now I’m back at work, for that crazy-busy time of year called Fashion Week. Stay tuned.

                                                                                                                                                                                All my love,

Summer Solstice, 2013

Summer has barely started, and for me, it couldn’t have been a busier or ultimately more spiritual beginning.  First, I went to Los Angeles to speak at “Mega Partnering VII” conference where I had a wonderful time meeting business people from all different walks of life. You can’t help be inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and the many paths it can take.

Then I was off to Israel with my soul sister, Barbra Streisand. President Shimon Peres requested Barbra to sing for his 90th birthday at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center. It was an amazing night, with over 2000 people in attendance. I got to catch up with President Clinton, whom I adore, and  saw former Prime Minister Tony Blair, Robert DeNiro and Sharon Stone.  Barbra sang Avinu Malkeinu – Our Father, Our King – singing first in Hebrew, before launching into People. Everyone, including me, was mesmerized. It was a night that will live with me forever.

I can’t be in Israel without touring. It doesn’t matter how often I visit, it always takes my breath away. This time, we visited the Masada mountain, the majestic, natural fortress in the Judean Desert overlooking the Dead Sea. The next day, we went to Hebron, one of my favorite places to recharge. We toured The Tomb of Jesse and Ruth, The Cave of Machpela, and then later the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.  We went up north with my friend Karen Berg of the Kabala, for more burial sites – The Tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and The Tomb of Rabbi Pinchas Ben Yair , where the ZOHAR was written. The next day, we went to my friend Ilana Goor’s incredible museum – an absolute must if you’re ever in Israel. All along the way, we shared lots of truly fabulous dinners with old and new friends. Love, laughter, culture and inspiration – how better to refresh and renew the spirit?   

Then, the night after shabbot, our dreams came true. Wearing a gorgeous caftan, Barbra performed her first-ever concert in Israel, held in Tel Aviv to a crowd of over 16,000. She knocked them dead in every way.  It was the best ever, and the crowd didn’t want it to end. There was a major standing ovation that went on and on.  It was nothing short of magical and connected so many dots in my life.  At Barbra’s surprise party last year, we saw a film her son Jason made where he said he’d never sing in public. One year later, here he is, on the stage, touring with his mother. It’s a lesson for all of us – never say never. You just don’t know what lies ahead in this unfolding journey called life.

Now we’re off boating with more summering to come! 

To be continued….

                                                                                                                                           All my love,

Thinking about Motherhood

I’ve been thinking a lot about motherhood and what it means to be a mother; it’s is a subject that I’ve shared my heart and soul on many times. I am a mother and grandmother and my maternal instincts have fueled not only my familial relationships, but also my desire to bring mind, body and spirit into my life as a businesswoman and philanthropist.

This spectrum of motherhood spans across so many things and, in my opinion, highlights what’s most important. This week, I was an extra proud mama. I had the extraordinary pleasure of witnessing my daughter, Gabby, being honored at the 
Solving Kids Cancer’s Annual Gala. I was bursting with pride watching Gabby receive the “Wings of Hope” award for her tireless support of such a necessary and important issue. And, I’m delighted to share that evening was a fantastic success bringing in over $440,000 to fund new treatment options for kids.

As I write this, I am back in Haiti, a place where I tune into my maternal intuition constantly. As women, we are creators and the desire to give birth is woven into the essence of who we are – whether we birth babies, businesses or ideas is entirely up to us – but our ability to create is an amazing offering; an offering that the world needs.

So, in honor of Mother’s Day, I want to encourage each and every one of you to reach into your inner reserves of creativity. Tap into your unique talents and offer the world your own, authentic, brilliant, illuminated creativity.

                                                                                                                                                                    All my love,

Finding the World in New York

New York has always meant the world to me. I’m often asked why I chose to name my company Donna Karan New York and I always say the same thing: My name really didn’t mean anything, but New York… New York means everything.

Well, this past week was a perfect snapshot into the world that is New York City. My days were packed with conferences, events and galas… all of which spoke to the diverse facets of my own passions and the global community that makes up this city that continues to motivate me everyday.

From connecting with my friends and inspirations at the Clinton Foundation, to supporting a cause very close to my heart at the Annual Pink Ribbon Gala, to celebrating the Tribeca Film Festival with an event at Urban Zen to supporting key members of my Haiti crew - Bryn Mooser and David Darg – and the premier of their film, “The Rider and the Storm.”

A definite highlight of my week was spending my Saturday afternoon with Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, who stopped by Urban Zen to see the gorgeous collection of uniquely designed papier mâché hearts (part of the Fashion for Haiti: One Million Hearts exhibition that is now available on eBay!). We also took some time to stroll through the Connecting the Dots exhibition and catch up on all things Haiti over lunch at Locanda Verde. 

Such an inspiring week! And, now, all of my energies are focused on Barbra who just arrived in New York this weekend. Much to celebrate… stay tuned!

                                                                                                                                                             All my love,

Fashion for Haiti: One Million Hearts

Creating a community of conscious consumerism is at the heart of everything I do, I believe it offers necessary solutions and I have witnessed the impact of this first hand in Haiti. I will be forever grateful to President Bill Clinton and the Clinton Foundation for introducing me to this vibrant country and offering such important leadership in this space.

I am excited to share that Urban Zen, together with the CFDA and eBay, launched Fashion for Haiti: One Million Hearts – an artistic celebration of the limitless potential of creativity and an expression of my ongoing love for Haiti.

For me, Haiti embodies all that Urban Zen represents and these beautifully designed hearts symbolize the power of bringing community together to raise awareness and inspire change.

You know, since my first visit to Haiti with the Clinton Foundation, I’ve been inspired by the Haitian artisans and how they are able to capture their culture and country in art form. I’ve been working with the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton Global Initiative to show the world these beautiful pieces, and in doing so, we’ve been able to help these artisans rebuild their own country by providing them with access to international markets and retailers. As an active member of the Clinton Global Initiatives Haiti Action Network, I was thrilled to work with both artisans from Haiti and Swarovski to create the design for the 2012 Clinton Global Citizen Award, awarded to individuals who have made an outstanding impact in philanthropy, public service, civil society, and the corporate sector.

In my continued travels to Haiti, I have discovered that the solution for rebuilding the country could be found in the inherent creativity of the people. I believe that Haiti represents a model for the developing world, one in which artistry is a key part of the solution. 

Seeing the CFDA designers come together to show their support for Haitian artisans is a dream come true for me. The soul that went into these hearts is astonishing; I was blown away by their unique designs.  I invite you to visit the Urban Zen Center in New York City to see them for yourself. The hearts will be on exhibition until April 22nd, after which point they will be sold at auction on eBay from April 22 – May 2 with 100% of proceeds benefitting Urban Zen’s Artisan program. 

My hope is that these hearts will continue to carry on the message that with a little bit of creativity so much soul can be expressed and new solutions can be discovered.

                                                                                                                                                   All my love,

Women in the World Summit: There is a Powerful Current Stirring
Attending the fourth annual Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center – just a few blocks from my home – was the perfect way to settle back into New York City after several weeks of travel.
This year’s summit built on the momentum created over the last three years and spoke to the incredible community of women as a global collective. It was inspiring to see world leaders – from exceptional executives, to profoundly effective humanitarians, to political and celebrity heavy hitters, to new women of impact – all come together to offer stories and insights from a very personal and solution oriented place.
I, of course, loved seeing women that I have long admired participate in the summit. Hillary Clinton’s speech exemplified the power of women – she stated so perfectly that, “Helping women isn’t just a nice thing to do.” I loved seeing her look so radiant, refreshed and full of life. Hillary captured the feeling of the summit when she said, “There is a powerful current stirring…we need to seize this moment.” I couldn’t agree more… there is something amazing happening amongst women and this moment is ripe.
You know, I’m constantly struck by the strength of the Clinton legacy and I especially felt this seeing Chelsea take the stage after her mother to lead a paneled discussion on future innovators, influencers and entrepreneurs.
I also love, love, loved seeing my dear friend Danielle Saint-Lot - Haiti’s Ambassador-at-Large - on the “How to Build a Woman Leader Panel,” a subject she has an enormous amount of personal experience in.
As the discussions and stories continued on throughout the summit, I was reminded how important women’s bodies are to our sense of self, power and expression. Many panels focused on the unthinkable abuse women have endured and the “battlefields” our bodies often represent. On the Outcry in India panel, journalist Shoma Chaudhury eloquently spoke to this point saying, “Women’s bodies are the battlefield on which destructive ideologies are contested.” However, there were just as many discussions surrounding the freedom we have to show the beauty of our bodies. I was particularly blown away when 18-year-old Michaela DePrince, a child survivor of war-torn Sierra Leone and orphanage abuse, danced on stage saying, “When I dance, I let people see who I really am.” As a designer and woman who has long appreciated the art of a woman’s body, I really connected with this line of conversation.
Overall, what really resonated with me was the abundant potential represented within this community of women. Empowering people to become self-sufficient, to stand tall, seek solutions and to live brave lives of impact. There were many dark topics covered, but the feeling I walked away with was one of light. In the end, it’s all about women raising women to another dimension.

                                                                                                                  All my love, 

Women in the World Summit: There is a Powerful Current Stirring

Attending the fourth annual Women in the World Summit at Lincoln Center – just a few blocks from my home – was the perfect way to settle back into New York City after several weeks of travel.

This year’s summit built on the momentum created over the last three years and spoke to the incredible community of women as a global collective. It was inspiring to see world leaders – from exceptional executives, to profoundly effective humanitarians, to political and celebrity heavy hitters, to new women of impact – all come together to offer stories and insights from a very personal and solution oriented place.

I, of course, loved seeing women that I have long admired participate in the summit. Hillary Clinton’s speech exemplified the power of women – she stated so perfectly that, “Helping women isn’t just a nice thing to do.” I loved seeing her look so radiant, refreshed and full of life. Hillary captured the feeling of the summit when she said, “There is a powerful current stirring…we need to seize this moment.” I couldn’t agree more… there is something amazing happening amongst women and this moment is ripe.

You know, I’m constantly struck by the strength of the Clinton legacy and I especially felt this seeing Chelsea take the stage after her mother to lead a paneled discussion on future innovators, influencers and entrepreneurs.

I also love, love, loved seeing my dear friend Danielle Saint-Lot - Haiti’s Ambassador-at-Large - on the “How to Build a Woman Leader Panel,” a subject she has an enormous amount of personal experience in.

As the discussions and stories continued on throughout the summit, I was reminded how important women’s bodies are to our sense of self, power and expression. Many panels focused on the unthinkable abuse women have endured and the “battlefields” our bodies often represent. On the Outcry in India panel, journalist Shoma Chaudhury eloquently spoke to this point saying, “Women’s bodies are the battlefield on which destructive ideologies are contested.” However, there were just as many discussions surrounding the freedom we have to show the beauty of our bodies. I was particularly blown away when 18-year-old Michaela DePrince, a child survivor of war-torn Sierra Leone and orphanage abuse, danced on stage saying, “When I dance, I let people see who I really am.” As a designer and woman who has long appreciated the art of a woman’s body, I really connected with this line of conversation.

Overall, what really resonated with me was the abundant potential represented within this community of women. Empowering people to become self-sufficient, to stand tall, seek solutions and to live brave lives of impact. There were many dark topics covered, but the feeling I walked away with was one of light. In the end, it’s all about women raising women to another dimension.

                                                                                                                  All my love, 

LA, DUBAI, & INDIA

At the moment, I’m staying at a beautiful ashram in India and the evening air smells like tuberose. It’s the perfect setting to reflect and tell you a little bit about my recent travels to LA and Dubai.

I had a whirlwind trip to LA for the Oscars. It was a welcomed change of pace after the frenzy of New York Fashion Week and I loved having the opportunity to not only dress Barbra for her stunning Oscar performance, but also to connect with friends like Hugh and Deb Jackman. After a few days in sunny California, I boarded my 17 hour flight to Dubai where I had a truly inspiring experience taking in culture and connecting with amazing women.

I decided to go to Dubai to join a group of inspiring women for a luncheon appropriately called “Empowering Women: Dynamic Forces of Change,” a paneled discussion moderated by Kathleen Matthews, Corporate Officer and EVP and Global Communications and Public Affairs, Marriott International, Inc. I joined Vital Voices President & CEO Alyse Nelson; Dubai Business Women Council President Raja Easa Al Gurg; Conde Nast Traveler Vice President & Publisher Carolyn Kremins; and JW Marriott Vice President & Global Brand Manager Mitzi Gaskins for this vibrant conversation.

We arrived a few days before the luncheon so we took some time to explore the new JW Marriott – I was immediately impressed with the calming energy. I found the hotel architecture to be absolutely breathtaking; it blew my mind! It’s the tallest building in the world and we had the great fortune to tour the hotel with Kathleen. I originally met Kathleen in Haiti through President Clinton and had an immediate connection with her; Kathleen and the Marriott share my view of how important it is to incorporate the local culture into business. Their philosophies are very much aligned with my mission at Urban Zen; I especially felt this when I stopped by their new spa Saray (where I had an authentic Haman experience with a Moroccan therapist - to die for!).

After the tour, I met with my dear friend Khalid who had produced a fashion show for me the last time I was in the country; Khalid connects the dots between fashion, education, culture and business, a true kindred spirit.

Later, we took a trip over to the Dubai Mall with my team from Donna Karan where I visited both my Donna Karan and DKNY stores… it’s always a little surreal to experience my stores in such diverse locations.  Before attending an intimate dinner with a fabulous group of women for opening night of the new JW Marriott Dubai, I toured a brilliant new school called Repton. The British curriculum used at this amazing school placed such an emphasis on art - which covered every inch of the school; I wanted to be a student there!

The next day, it was time for the Empowering Women: Dynamic forces of Change panel. I have to say; I was really struck when I looked around the room at the beautiful faces of 200 women from around the world. Throughout the conversation, I realized how truly connected we all are – how our common experiences bond us across cultures and perceived differences. We all face the same challenges no matter where we live. It reaffirmed for me how important it is to ground your self and be in the now as we navigate through an ever-evolving world. I spoke about the importance of creating community, as it’s not about the” me” it’s about the “we”, the connection of the dots.

As the luncheon came to a close I had an opportunity to take the ladies through a guided meditation, connecting woman-to-woman while I shared my personal struggle to find the calm in the chaos and how my journey with Urban Zen has given me the missing link that connects us all.

You know, as I write this I am cognizant of the fact that it’s women’s history month and international women’s day is fast approaching. For me, that’s what these last few weeks have been about. My friendships with the women in my life are invaluable and I was reminded of this after spending time with Barbra in LA. Then, to connect with such amazing women in Dubai and to be a part of a necessary and timely conversation on women’s empowerment was truly extraordinary. Now, I’m in India working on my own self-care, another element of women’s empowerment that is so crucial (and often overlooked in many women’s lives). I’m taking some time to reconnect my mind, body and spirit. I hope you can take a moment and do the same.

Be in touch soon with more stories from India…

Barbra Streisand Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur                                                                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                                        All my love,

 

The Shows

Another Fashion Week over… whew! I’ve just arrived in LA to dress Barbra for the Oscars, but before I get wrapped up in the celebratory awards season, I wanted to take a moment to tell you about how I’m feeling about my shows.

For me, the Donna Karan collection was about individuality, freedom and endless possibility: three words that embody the theme of my life in this moment. It was personal. 

I loved the way this season came together; from look number one through the end of the show, we highlighted women of power. I wanted to convey the evolution of a signature style - a collection that has a life longer than a season.

I absolutely loved the energy of the DKNY show: the color, the set, the video, the music were all vibrant and dynamic. I thought the girls beautifully walked that fine line between youth and sophistication, which was perfect. It was fashion meeting real life and love, love, Ioved it.

DKNY is always a little more familial. I started DKNY to address the growing needs of my own family and the collection continues to draw on my maternal instincts: every season feels like I am watching my child take another step forward. I’m very proud of where DKNY is today.

I feel great about both collections and am thrilled to be taking some time in LA, basking in sunshine, spending time with Barbra and gearing up for the Oscars. Stay tuned!

                                                                                                                                            All my love,

THE BODY SPEAKS

How am I feeling about the collection? I’m so nervous! It doesn’t seem to matter how many years I’ve done this, how many runways have been awaiting yet another finished collection… I still question whether we’ll get it done. The amazing thing is, we always do.

Being in the design room is hard to describe. You know, it’s sort of every designer’s dream and nightmare all at the same time. It’s almost like a birthing room… there is a nervousness, an anticipation. No matter how many times you’ve done it before, you’re still anxious about birthing a new baby. This is the design room: it is its own ecosystem and while you’re in that sacred space you know you’re simply a channel co-creating with inspiration.

Though, it’s certainly an equitable exchange. With each collection I, too, am reborn.  After all these years, every season and collection remains a redefinition of self. It is always a continuation, always a surprise, and there are never any guarantees.

I consistently feel like I am starting from the beginning. But, I have to say, I’m proud of my design team – their visions and the unique lens they’re bringing to our collective creations is beyond. I am very confident in the foundation of this collection: the body is back. People ask me how I keep finding new inspiration… but it’s the body, it’s always the body. The body talks to me. There is a language there and I’m constantly trying to speak it, to fluently engage with it.  Proportions change, volumes change, and a subtle movement – a stroke of grace, a strike of power – can express something that is entirely new.

I’ve been enormously inspired by my husband’s exhibition, seeing his work on display in his studio has, truly, shaped this collection. I’m seeing, again, the way he sculpted the body… the curve of a neck, the arch of a back… my hand follows these lines when I’m draping, recreates those curves in a seam; I, too, am sculpting the body through my own artistic expression. In this way, Stephan and I are still working in tandem. We will always come together through art – then, now, forever.

                                                                                                                                                    All my love,