July 1, 2015

By Marcellous L. Jones

Paris, France – In shocking news yesterday that rocked the fashion world over, famed American fashion house, Donna Karan International, announced that Donna Karan, is stepping down as Chief Designer.

Ms. Karan said in a statement, “LVMH and I have made this decision after much soul-searching. I have arrived at a point in my life where I need to spend more time to pursue my Urban Zen commitment to its fullest potential and follow my vision of philanthropy and commerce.”

Donna Karan, Founder of the House of Donna Karan International

Donna Karan, Founder of the House of Donna Karan International

Donna Karan founded the house in 1984 with her late husband Steven Weiss. It went on to embody the very spirit of American fashion and literarily dominated both the ready-to-wear and menswear scenes. This lead to the launch of her ultra successful DKNY lines for both men and women. Those lines were so hot that in late 1994 the queen of television — Oprah Winfrey — invited Donna Karan to appear on her top rated show in order to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the founding of the house. This was a rare popular accolade as one could count on one hand the number of designers invited to appear on that show during its 25 years run. Then in 1996 Karan took the house public on the stock market. And in 2004 she sold the house to the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy luxury group for $243 million.

In even more shocking news, the house has also decided to “cease all production” of the main Donna Karan. This effectively means that Donna Karan will be absent from the Spring/Summer 2016 catwalk shows to be held in September in New York City. At this time the house will focus on significant development of the DKNY line, which already accounts for 80% of earnings at Donna Karan International.

In the agreement Donna Karan will remain on as an “advisor” to the house that carries her name. However, it has been widely known that Ms. Karan’s relationship with LVMH has gradually and consistently deteriorated over the years. She now joins the ranks of other immensely talented names (i.e. Hubert de Givenchy, Gianfranco Ferré, John Galliano) to “part ways” with LVMH under a cloud of mistrust, disappointment and “diverging point of views”.

This is a very sad day in fashion. Karan, who has won the CFDA Award for both Womenswear Designer of the Year and Menswear Designer of the year, is also a  noted philanthropist. It is a shame that her views are no longer in step with the objectives of LVMH to the point of her being demoted to advisor. But her philosophy on fashion sums it up best as she once stated,

“Everything I do is a matter of heart, body and soul. For me, designing is an expression of who I am as a woman, with all the complications, feelings and emotions.”