Donna Karan Fragrance And Fashion

Donna Karan has been called the Queen of Seventh Avenue. The New York native is one of the world's most popular and successful fashion designers.

Donna Karan has fashion in her genes. Her father was tailor and her mother was a fashion model when Donna was born in 1948, in Forest Hills, NY, just outside Manhattan. Donna always loved fashion, and started modeling and designing clothes while still a teenager.

Karan studied at the Parsons School of Design for two years, then took got a summer internship with sportswear pioneer/legend Anne Klein in 1967. Klein, recognizing Karan's talent, persuaded her to drop out of Parsons and come to work for her. The two had a rocky relationship, and Klein fired and rehired her more than once. She eventually became Klein's chief assistant designer. When Klein died suddenly of cancer in 1974, 26-year-old Karan was named chief designer, and quickly made a name for herself as a fashion force to be reckoned with.

In 1975, Louis Dell'Olio, a classmate from Parsons, joined her and together they designed the Anne Klein Collection. In 1982, Karan and Dell'Olio created Anne Klein II. It was a success, and one of the first "bridge" collections, offering designer garments at cheaper, ready-to-wear, prices.

Three years later, she left Anne Klein to open her own company, along with her husband and partner, sculptor Stephen Weiss. Her elegant and comfortable designs""especially her legendary bodysuit and seven easy pieces system of dressing--were an immediate success, especially with professional women. Karan's clothing featured fabrics like cashmere that wrapped and sculpted the body, and her designs also included stretch fabrics.

Five years later, in 1990, a ready-to-wear line, DKNY (Donna Karan New York) was born, and was an immediate and enormous success, with its affordable, street-smart designs. In 1991 she brought brought out a menswear line, and throughout the 90s her empire flourished, adding children's clothing, perfume, cosmetics, hosiery, home design and other products to her design empire. Karan became a household name, and her clients included many Hollywood superstars, including Barbra Streisand. Karan was called by some the Queen of Seventh Avenue. In 1996, the company went public.

With her late husband, sculptor Stephen Weiss, she created Donna Karan New York fragrances. Her signature scent is Cashmere a sheer floral, combining the Moroccan jasmine, lily of the valley, bergamot, sandalwood, amber and musk. From there, they went on to develop the softer Cashmere Mist and other bath and body products. Weiss designed all the bottles. Her latest scent is Be Delicious, and its apple-shaped bottle is a tribute to Karan's native New York.

They opened the Donna Karan flagship store in New York at 819 Madison Avenue with a d├ęcor that she says offers her ideal shopping environment, complete with a water rock garden. There are also Donna Karan and DKNY stores across the world.

In 2001, she sold Donna Karan International to French luxury conglomerate LVMH for almost $250 million in cash. She'd previously sold her licensing company, Gabrielle Studio, to them, and the total value of the deal was $643 million. Her husband and partner Stephen Weiss died that year. She remains the chief designer for the firm.

The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) has saluted her seven times. In 2005 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award which coincided with her company's 20th anniversary.

© High Speed Ventures 2011