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Last summer, the iconic DKNY mural on Houston at Broadway was painted over?after reigning for nearly two decades?by a muddy wall of Hollister. We were seriously dejected, and since we love us some DKNY?have you ever seen the "cozy?" You can wear it at least eight different ways, and the freaking thing has its own iPhone app?we were happy to head to an auditorium at Parsons last night to hear Donna Karan herself discuss the evolving fashion industry in New York.
The event was a free ticketed one, part of a series called "Workwear Conversations," to celebrate Parson's new graduate degree in Fashion Design & Society, and it was a sold-out crowd. Karan discussed her past, her current vision, and how fashion is evolving with Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. And we got to eavesdrop on DK's thoughts...
· On being a fashion student in New York, who failed out of Parsons only to find herself working at Anne Klein:
"I was so in awe to be on 7th Avenue that I didn't really realize what a gift it is to be in school." Karan also admitted to barely passing high school, and she failed miserably at her Parsons draping class. She stated that she originally wanted to be a fashion illustrator and approached WWD, but even they could see she belonged doing her own thing.
· On being a woman designer, designing womenswear:
"I'm faced everyday with looking at that mirror. I really wanted to design a collection for me and my friends. Seven easy pieces...a concise wardrobe for the woman constantly one the go, constantly traveling. Then my friends became my daughter and her friends, and then more friends who were raiding the closet."
· On the color black and her seven-easy-pieces philosophy:
"I wanted to create pieces with longevity...I didn't want to take the time to think about what I needed to wear. I love uniforms?[people in uniforms] wear the same thing everyday and looks how good they look."
· Answering a question from the audience about whether she'll do plus-size clothing:
"Nothing I'm wearing has a size. The idea of sizes is old-fashioned. We should all be able to take the same piece of fabric and wrap it around us." "I love that Gabourey Sidibe and I can be wearing the same dress." (Because they had done a shoot together and Sidibe wore DK's Urban Zen line) Also, Donna loves belt bags and scarves.
· On fashion right now:
"What fashion is to me right now is social consciousness. Our social responsibility as designers is bigger than ever before." She cites Haiti, saying she feels pulled to help out, and announces that she's beginning a campaign to house communities of Haitian homeless "from a tent to a home."
· On where New York fashion is going:
"We're on the cusp of something so huge. It's conscious consumerism, what is design all about and world consciousness. We need to look to creativity within the city." She looks back on September 11, a day after which "life was never the same." It was also the day of the DKNY and Donna Karan shows, and the DKNY venue?the Park Avenue Armory?was turned into a triage site.
· On the early premiering of collections and how fashion weeks should be closer to the season the clothes are meant for:
"We are killing our own industry. I don't want consumers to see what's going to be in store in August, 6 or 7 months away?it's confusing. There is too much information out there. We are giving copycats the designs that we worked on for a year..." "We've conditioned the customer to buy on sale." "We're talking an eco-friendly system, then we're talking in-season." She says it's like with groceries?you buy what's in season.