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> Fashion Designer Category D
Donna Karan is the most prominent and successful figure in American fashion. Her popularity derives from a philosophy of designing real clothes for real women - beautiful yet practical creations that are as easily worn in everyday life as on the catwalk. She is the archetypal New Yorker, drawing her inspiration from the energy, pace and style of the world's most sophisticated city. Originating as a womenswear label, her company now produces menswear, childrenswear and accessories, all perpetuating the uniquely modern style that has brought Donna Karen world recognition. Karan, nicknamed The Queen Of Seventh Avenue, began working for Liz Claiborne at a very young age. In the 1970s, she then got a job through her mother as an intern with Anne Klein, where she was eventually promoted to associate designer in 1971. When Anne Klein herself died in 1974, Takihyo Corporation of Japan became the new owner and Karan, together with her former classmate and friend Louis Dell’Ollio, became head designer of the house. In 1984 Donna Karan left Anne Klein and, together with her husband Stephan Weiss and Takihyo Corporation she started her own business “to design modern clothes for modern people". She showed her first Donna Karan women’s collection in 1985. What made her initially famous in the industry was her line of elastic bodysuits. She also became known for her very successful Essentials line, initially offering seven easy pieces which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe. At a time when more and more women in America entered the business world and were looking for sophisticated and elegant, yet simple and functional clothing, preferably in black, white or grey, the company experienced tremendous success with its ‘power dressing’ outfits and was loved by the critics in the 1980s. Ms. Karan always insisted that she would only design clothes, like jersey dresses and opaque Lycra tights, that she would also wear herself. Donna Karan was so New York that the New York Times described her as “Ed Koch in a stretchy black dress” in the early nineties, referring to the then mayor of New York City. In 1988 Karan extended her women’s Signature Collection by a less expensive line, called DKNY, for younger women. The line was such a hit that Karan can be regarded as the first designer to successfully establish a bridge collection. Two years later she created DKNY Jeans and DKNY for men was launched in 1992, one year after the Signature collection line for men had been presented. The portfolio was later complemented by a kid’s collection, beauty products, accessories and furniture. Sales rose up to 510.1 million in 1995 from $96.6 in 1991. More than half of the sales are attributed to the DKNY lines, couture contributes 15% and about 30% of the sales are generated by men’s clothing, accessories, cosmetics and other products. Almost a third of the sales are made in exports. The European DKNY business was damaged in the early 1990s by poor quality and flawed logistics which resulted in the creation of a European supply center in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The company later announced to show their collection at the Milan fashion week in 1996 but later backed out again.
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