Donna Karan is an American designer who created Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels. Her most Successful line is DKNY which targets young, active, and urban clientele who appreciate a casual elegance.


  1. The Origin
  2. Anne Klein
  3. Her style
  4. DKNY Launched
  5. LVMH Purchases Donna Karan International
  6. DKNY PR Girl
  7. Brand Development
  8. LVMH Sells DKNY
  9. Current Situation

The Origin

Donna Karan Portrait
Donna Karan Portrait

Donna Karan is an American designer, born as Donna Faske in Forest Hills, Long Island in 1948. She decided to become a designer when very young, having been surrounded by the world of fashion from childhood, her mother, father, and uncle all worked in the industry. After high school, she attended the Parson’s School of Design in New York. She spent the Summer of her second year, working for Anne Klein & Co. She was later hired as their assistant designer.

Anne Klein

Donna Karan at Anne Klein in 1980
Donna Karan at Anne Klein in 1980

In 1974 Anne Klein died suddenly and Karan became the stylistic director at the age of 25. In 1982 she created the diffusion line Anne Klein II, which already bore her hallmark clean and modern style. Two years later these qualities were distinguished in her eponymous Collection, Donna Karan, which was the surname of her first husband who she married in 1973 and divorced immediately after. The launch of her own brand was made possible by Takiyho Inc., Japanese company owner of Anne Klein & Co.

Her Style

The Collection, dynamic and essential in style, introduced her concept of the seven easy pieces. She proposed an intelligent wardrobe composed by few interchangeable pieces, perfect to wear in every moment of the day for a working woman, to whom she looks with particular attention. The color black is still the basis of her Collections today, a non-color that she regards as a canvas ready for painting. She reintroduced the leotard, proposing it in new, tight modeling stretch fabric to wear as clothing with a jacket for the office, and with a necklace for the evening.

DKNY Leotard Campaign 1990
Leotard Campaign 1990

The versatility and simplicity of the leotard had a huge impact on the dressing style of the second half of the 1980s, when there was a renewed interest in physical fitness and the leotard was capable of embracing this. Karan’s wrapping forms are typical of her style to accentuate the feminine lines and hide its defects. She uses cashmere, preferably in black, to stimulate the senses. Since the start of brand, new lines have been launched and new stores have opened every year.

DKNY Launched

In 1988 Karan extended her women’s ‘Donna Karan New York’ line by creating a less expensive clothing line for younger women, called DKNY. DKNY is the most successful line proved through record of sales. It is medium expensive with a target young, active, urban clientele who appreciates a casual elegance.

DKNY Commercial in 1990
DKNY Commercial in 1990

Several agreements have concluded on license, one of the most important is the one with Estée Lauder for a line of cosmetics in 1997. The Donna Karan empire now includes: women’s, men’s, and children’s wear, with lines ranging from elegant to casual, as well as accessories, cosmetics, and interior decor lines. Her second husband, Stephan Weiss, who she married in 1977, manages the company. It is a business that employs 2,000 workers and is quoted on the New York stock exchange. During the 1990s, Karan embraced the New Age philosophy in an attempt to find an existential balance in her frenetic life. She said:

“Everything I do is a matter of heart, body, and soul”.

Her personal and economic involvement is very important to her on the social front. She participated in two committees for the struggle against AIDS and in a charity for the research on ovarian cancer. She has won the Council of Fashion Designers of America award on several occasions, as well as the Coty American Fashion Critics award and other awards in the course of her career. Her old college honored her with an ad honorem degree in 1987. She lectures regularly at the Parson’s School of Design and she is on the committee of directors. Several books have been written about her, her style, and her ascent to designer of international fame.

LVMH Purchases Donna Karan International

In April 2001 the designer announced the sale of Donna Karan International for the sum of $250 million. The purchaser is the French group Lvmh, which had already acquired Donna Karan’s holding company. The total sale amounts to $643 million. The brand’s headquarters remain in New York. Lvmh’s intention is to ferry the company towards a luxury market. In 2002, DKNY re- launches its kidswear in collaboration with CWF (children worldwide fashion). DKNY jeans joined the American White House’s anti-drug campaign with release of a calendar that asking celebrities what their anti-drug is. Fourteen celebrities, including musicians and actors such as Enrique Iglesias, Brendan Fehr and Jay Hernandez, were featured in the calendar.

Donna Karan DKNY Fall/Winter 2003
DKNY Fall/Winter 2003 Collection

Later in May 2003 Donna Karan International announced that it would not produce a men’s Collection for the first time since 1992. Also, a convergence of the different facets of a woman’s life were seen on the runway for DKNY f/w 2003. The schoolgirls, the career woman, the preppy, and the punk there was something for everyone. The year 2003 reflected the sidewalk of the dynamic New York City; the spring collection was a revisit to the retro tinged dressing. DKNY hosted the Vanity Fair “In concert” to benefit Step Up Women’s Network, musician Mya and actress Chloe Sevigny attend the event at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. The first flagship store for Japan was opened in Omotesando: Shibuya Ward, Tokyo.

In 2004 the company re-Launched the menswear collection and the unconventional location for DKNY show marked one of the most remarkable year in its history. The menswear and womenswear collection was for the Urban Dwellers, the style ambitious, the time starved: The New Yorkers. Also this year, Donna Karan International and Luxottica Group S.p.A. signed a five-year licensing agreement for the design, production and worldwide distribution of Donna Karan and DKNY prescription frames and sunglasses.

In 2005 Donna Karan was awarded with the “Lifetime Achievement Award” to recognize her outstanding efforts in the industry. Since 2005, Donna Karan has offered online shopping of its DKNY lines at the label’s web site. Products range from womenswear, accessories, shoes, baby clothing, and the PURE collection to menswear.

Mark Weber, the former chief executive officer of Phillips-Van Heusen, was appointed as the creative director for Donna Karan International replacing Jeffry Aronsson. The venue of DKNY show still remains a statement for the brand the 2006 spring collection was presented in Manhattan’s Classic Car Club, where models reclined amid streamlined roadsters in clothes borrowing style from the sixties.  

After the death of Karan’s husband in 2001 suffering from Cancer she felt the need to convince medical professionals to treat the patient, not just the disease, so  she established the Urban Zen foundation in 2007. Also, the company launched its first collection with Stardoll in August, an online community for female fashion lovers. In Spring 2008 brought back the seventies, the iconic jumpsuits was played with great bounce and upbeat energy.


Donna Karan Aliza Licht
Aliza Licht

Donna Karan started on social media in 2009 as one of the first luxury fashion brands to be in the space. The DKNY PR girl on twitter and tumblr, managed by Aliza Licht became a portal to engage consumers and reply to their complaints. Also, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the brand’s launch it focused on its bag collection and released seven new items each season starting autumn. Celebrations continued as the spring 2009 collection venue was switched from its usual standing-room-only to Bryant Park. This season saw a great connection with street wear than the previous seasons. The collection was embracing the momentum of fast fashion. Wearable basics with a hint of fun.

2010 was a year where DKNY launched itself into being a staple part of any girls wardrobe. It was mix of the mother-daughter style. DKNY ethos the buy now –wear now value through its collection through fall and spring 2010. Karan won the prestigious Clinton Global Citizen Award in 2010, an honor to acknowledge the work with the Urban Zen Haiti Artisan Project. Karan was honored with a Gordon Parks Foundation Award for using creative means to change and educate the world.

Brand Development

At the beginning of 2012, DKNY opened its first stores in China and Russia. The company targeted fashion-minded fans via a new Facebook application that allows users to follow the creation of the brand’s dresses from start to finish. The Atelier Facebook app gives brand enthusiasts the opportunity to learn more about their favorite dresses from Donna Karan.

The #UK2012 was a campaign started to re-open its store in London, DKNY reached out to 50 industry influencers and asked them to begin discussing it using the #UK2012 hashtag. For DKNY, #UK2012 became a trending topic on Twitter with no paid media. It was also covered by the Wall Street journal as an extremely successful campaign.

Fall menswear DKNY presented its latest menswear collection at the glass-walled Nasdaq Market Site building, the first men’s brand to do so. The collection showed a new detail with every jacket having an iPhone pocket hidden in it.

During the 2013 MET Gala, an event to which most people do not have live access, DKNY made its own Twitter Ball to invite consumers to view the live stream with the brand. The online event tagline was “if you’re not invited, you’re invited.” The event generated 408 user tweets mentioning @DKNY, @VogueMagazine and #METGala . Vogue also streamed @DKNY tweets on its Web site during the night.

Donna Karan Art Installations In Time Square
Art Installations In Time Square

DKNY expanded its outdoor advertising efforts through a variety of art installations around the world. It commissioned 10 artists from 10 cities; New York, London, Paris, Milan, Dubai, Kuwait City, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo to create outdoor art that interprets New York City. In addition to the microsite, DKNY h also released an augmented reality app for iOS and Android that invites users to take photos of each work to pull up a contextual video. To spark further engagement, a 10 x 13-foot piece of 3D art in London was moved among three undisclosed locations. To find it, users had to seek out clues on Twitter and Facebook.

Though primarily a branding campaign, there is a sales tie-in: DKNY released a #dknyarts collection featuring work printed on tote bags, scarves and other items.

Donna Karan Cara Delevingne 2014
Cara Delevingne Collection 2014

2014 started with a campaign which included a special collaboration with Cara Delevingne for a capsule collection, and also an Instagram contest to find the perfect models to shoot with Cara in New York. As a result, just within the first 12 hours of the campaign, there were more than 23,000 submissions with the specific hashtags.

DKNY marked its 25th anniversary revisiting some of the line’s greatest hits, Carrie Bradshaw made pieces like the low back naked dress particularly famous during this period. Also, DKNY launched in the middle eastern market by a capsule collection during Ramadan. Partnering with notable celebrities it reached a wider audience.


LVMH agreed to sell Donna Karan International to G-III Apparel Group for $650 Million. Then, in June 2015 Donna Karan steps down from the label. Aliza Licht leaves DKNY PR girl portal following Donna Karan. Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne appointed as the new Creative Directors of DKNY. In addition, Hector Muelas was named Chief Image Office of Donna Karan International. After such huge changes the year ended by the design of the new logo of DKNY, the typeface Franklin Gothic replaced the blocky lettering, the logo was launched in spring 2016.

Donna Karan Creative Directors Dao Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne
Creative Directors Dao Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne

Chow and Osborne made attempts to retain the brand identity as being a mature womenswear brand. They decided that 40% of the global media budget will be invested digitally. This was a significant step for the brand, which invested 5 percent in digital in 2015.

The company participated in the NEW INC series, a part of DKNY’s collaboration with the museum’s New Women Project, which provides support to female artists. Also, they launched an Experiential Bus Tour Campaign for the DKNY #BeTempted Perfume Launch. It was created around a promotional bus tour that travelled across the UK with a bespoke photo experience on board.

Current Situation

Donna Karan DKNY 2017 Campaign
DKNY 2017 Campaign

In 2017 Bella Hadid is the muse for the new DKNY campaign. Also, there is a new partnership deal with Farfetch’s Black & White Division, DKNY is trying to connect with consumers on multiple levels. DKNY co-creative directors Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne exited the company January, along with DKI chief executive officer Caroline Brown.

DKNY is re-launching  its site to  accelerate e-commerce for shoppers and trying to capitalize on Farfetch’s proprietary technology. Features such as intuitive navigation, individualized messaging, wish list features, a localized homepage and a fully responsive mobile platform and offer same-day shipping in New York, London, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, with Manchester to follow.


Ralph Lauren is an American brand founded in 1967 by fashion designer, Ralph Lauren. They produce and market: apparel, home, accessories, and fragrances.


  1. The Origins
  2. First Collection
  3. The Style
  4. Expansion of the Brand
  5. Ralph Lauren in the Cinema
  6. Awards & Donations
  7. The Financial Situation
  8. The Recent Year’s

The Origins

Ralph Lipschitz (1939). American designer, born in Bronx, New York. Since his childhood, Ralph Lauren, had shown great passion and love towards the industry of fashion, which supported his career’s paths. He learned the profession by working in the field between 1956 and 1966. His job titles include shop assistant, buyer, and agent in several department stores in New York, including the Alexander stores, Allied stores, Bloomingdale’s, Brooks Brothers, and Rivetz in Boston. Also, he took evening courses in business management at City College in New York.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren 1971 Working is his Office
Ralph Lauren (1971) Working is his Office

First Collection

In 1967 designed and handmade a professional tie collection. He innovated the wide tie style, named “Polo” for Beau Brummel. The collection was a huge success and a year later he established the independent brand, Polo by Ralph Lauren, which made its début with a tailored menswear collection.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren First Tie Collection Style
Ralph Lauren First Tie Collection Style

The Style

Since starting out, his style has interpreted the past with a touch of romanticism, blending the traditions of the English aristocracy, above all, the impeccable Duke of Windsor, with the stars of old Hollywood, such as Cary Grant and Fred Astaire. Also, he designs with thoughts such as sports, African safaris, and vacations in New England. Ralph Lauren was able to expand his design to a full menswear line, and was awarded the City Award for his men’s designs. His style was highly influenced by his dream of living as an American high ivy-league society where classic, elegant, and a smart look were most important.

He says: “My purpose in fashion is to achieve the dream of dreams: the most beautiful reality that one can imagine.”

In this manner he has created a style that is by now recognized as typically American. His style is appreciated all over the world by those looking for a slice of the American Dream.

Expansion of the Brand

In 1971 he launched his first womenswear collection and introduced the famous logo of the polo player into knitwear. That same year, Lauren opened his first boutique in Beverly Hills, and a corner space in Bloomingdale’s, New York. The first international store opened in London in 1981 and by then there were about 100 around the world. The New York showroom in the former Rhinelander mansion in Madison Avenue opened in 1986. The store mirrors his way of thinking about fashion and life, proposing an eternal elegance and a very high, timeless quality.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren First Collection of Fitted Shirt's
Ralph Lauren First Collection of Fitted Shirt’s

By the 1990s, Ralph Lauren had about 20 clothing lines for men, women, teenagers, and children. Also, several fragrances and the line of household items are successful. Several lines of accessories are produced under license.

Ralph Lauren in the Cinema

He has also designed several costumes for the cinema. In 1973 he clothed Robert Redford in the movie version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In 1977 he launched a new fashion when he dressed Diane Keaton in men’s clothes in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall: jackets and pants in soft tweeds, shirt and tie, waistcoat and felt hats, everything assembled in a totally new ironic and sensual way. The success did not stop but was continuously built with extending products such as fragrance in 1978 up until today and different lines such as of Polo Sport in 1992, Purple Label in 1995, and Lauren Ralph Lauren in 1996. Ralph Lauren did not stop there, he also started reaching out different market such as restaurants and bars that were opened in 1999 at Chicago and other major places in the coming years such as Paris (2010) and New York (2015).

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Dressed Diane Keaton in Annie Hall
Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Dressed Diane Keaton in Annie Hall (Photo by Moviestore Collection)

Awards & Donations

The list of prizes and awards he has won is extremely long, including an ad honorem degree in Classical Literature from Brandeis University in 1996. Also, some of his creations are in the permanent collection of New York’s Fashion Institute. Later, in 1983 a retrospective of his work was held in the Denver Art Museum in Colorado. Over the years he made significant donations to humanitarian causes, for example, research into cancer and Aids. In 1998 he offered $13 million for the restoration of the first American flag, the original star-spangled banner. The company was quoted on the New York Stock Exchange in 1997. Two years later Ralph Lauren bought Club Monaco, Canadian traders in retail fashion, for $52.5 million, making its own name as one of the international powers in the field of prêt-à-porter.

In January of 2000, the American company bought the licensee company for Europe, Poloco of Paris, for $200 million. Also, with the development of technology, Ralph Lauren kept his positioning by launching official web site in 2000. In August 2001, Lillian Wang von Stauffenberg and Lauren DuPont became the new designers for the women’s collection.

During the first half of the year the company had a turnover of $898.3 million, an increase of 3.8% compared to 2000. Net profits amounted to $125.1 million. The multinational had 231 stores worldwide. In the United States sales represented 78.1% of the total; in Japan and Europe, respectively, 10% and 7.3%. The clothes and shoes bearing the Ralph Lauren brand name were mostly manufactured in Italy. As of 2001, global sales reached a level of $2.6 billion.

In 2001 the Polo Ralph Lauren Foundation was founded and for breast cancer awareness Ralph Lauren launched the Pink Pony initiative to help raise awareness. In the spring 2002 fashion show models were wearing the Pink Pony T-Shirt, which became a symbol of the campaign.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Tee Spring 2002 Runway Show
Ralph Lauren Pink Pony Tee Spring 2002 Runway Show

The Financial Situation

February of 2002 For the first time the group presented its men’s collection in Milan, in its headquarters at 27 Via San Barnaba (designed by the architect Mino Fiocchi). It is an exact reproduction of the designer’s house. Later in December, after 25 years of a license agreement with Seibu, Ralph Lauren took back control in Japan, acquiring 50% of the company operating under the general license. The total investment amounted to $70 million.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Flagship in Milan on 27 Via San Barnaba
Ralph Lauren Flagship in Milan on 27 Via San Barnaba

In January 2003 Ralph Lauren moved store locations in Milan and chose Via Montenapoleone for his first own-brand boutique in Milan. The store opened in Fall 2004. With more than 20 collections, 265 stores all over the world, and a retail value of $8 billion, Polo Ralph Lauren aimed at reaching, in the next five years, a turnover of $1 billion in the European continent alone.

The same year, the designer launches the Rugby line, a complete collection for teenagers aged 16 to 25. The line obviously inspires the same sport. In October, he opened his first Rugby store in Boston. In 2005, sales grew around 38%. There were notable increase in profits, especially in the third and the last quarter of 2004. And the new year begins with an increase of receipts, rising to $74.8 million, over the $35.4 million of the year before.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Rugby Line
Ralph Lauren Rugby Line

In 2006, Ralph Lauren opened its largest shop in Omotesando, Tokyo, 2230 square meters of Ralph Lauren’s entire world show. In 2007, two single monarchs were opened in Moscow. In 2008, once again Ralph Lauren is confirmed as the official sponsor of Wimbledon, the most exclusive tennis tournament in the world, and dedicates a collection to this event.

The Recent Year’s

To enrich the brand luxury positioning they underwent several collaborations and brand extensions. In 2007 Ralph Lauren decided to reach the industry of jewelry and accessories by partnering with Swiss Luxury Goods Group and the partnership still exists today.  Another partnering was with J.C. Penney for launching American Living for Ralph Lauren home collection. However, this collaboration did not last long and ended by 2012. Also, Ralph Lauren opened the sophisticated line called Black Label in 2009 and then reaching out the kid’s section through the “Pink Pony” collection in the same year as well. For the women’s line, in 2010, the brand started to launch the line Lauren’s Handbags and Accessories. Later, in 2012 the Rugby line, which started in 2005, is officially discontinued.

The latest highlight was the Ricky Bag in 2016, which was inspired from his wife. The bag had a discreet rechargeable battery to power the internal LED light and also a USB port to charge mobile devices. Due to the unique design, this collection also was exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Ricky Bag
the Iconic Ricky Bag

At the end of 2015, Ralph Lauren officially stepped down as CEO, but will remain executive chairman and chief creative director. Stefan Larsson, a Swedish born previous executive of Old Navy and Gap, took Lauren’s position as CEO. Unfortunately, after a year, Larsson stepped down after a disagreement with Lauren on how to revive the brand in the new era. Currently, Ralph Lauren is looking for a CEO.

Through the year Ralph Lauren never stopped envisioning future. In 2016 during New York fashion week they partnered with Periscope, Twitter’s livestream app, creating the first livestream of the luxury’s runway show in Manhattan and streamed on a billboard in London’s Piccadilly Circus and @RalphLauren Periscope account. With continuous expansion of stores and products’ development, Ralph Lauren currently has more than 500 directly operated stores worldwide and international licensing partners around the world.

Mame Fashion Dictionary: Ralph Lauren Current 2017 Campaign
Current 2017 Campaign

Since the brand’s early age, it has been trusted to become the official outfitter of U.S. Olympic Team for almost every season of the competitions. He has also designed suits for government officials. In the 2016 US elections he designed outfits for both Democrats and Republicans during the campaign and inauguration.