Keeping it Real

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  • Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow

  • Emily Ratajkowski in DKNY

Donna Karan New York was founded in 1989. After working for 15 years with Anne Klein as the head designer, Donna Karan got the opportunity to step out on her own. After her own label was a success, DKNY was a result of Karan’s desire to dress her daughter. Today, with the new creative directors duo on board, DKNY is known as the affordable sibling line of the eponymous brand which shouts great fashion. Shweta Bhatia explores more

Donna Karan is one of the most influential designers in the world. The Parsons School of Design graduate landed a job with Anne Klein while she was still in school. With her impeccable eye for design and impressive work, she was made associate designer within two years of being with the company. She ascended to the top of the brand soon after the founding designer’s demise and with her friend and fellow designer, Louis Dell’Ollio, the Anne Klein brand bloomed.

In 1984, Karan decided to venture out on her own. She debuted her first women’s collection a year later and it was an instant hit. Donna Karan’s designs are like a time capsule where the brand keeps re-issuing the best pieces that were so iconic in the 90s. Her aim was to design modern clothes for the modern people and with the increasing number of women who were entering the professional fields, her timing couldn’t have been more apt. The brand’s styles consisted of dresses for women that complimented their classic structures. Unisex t-shirts, hoodies, bodysuits for women and jackets were just some of the pieces that were received well by fashion lovers all over.

After five years, Donna Karan wanted to diversify into fashion, which was more accessible to all. DKNY was born when she wanted to dress her daughter in a stylish attire but also affordable. DKNY was a result of her feminine instincts, as per the designer. The brand became so popular that it soon expanded its departments and labels such as Donna Karan Jeans, Donna Karan Menswear, Donna Karan Active, Donna Karan Jeans Juniors and Donna Karan Kids were introduced. DKNY had suddenly reached a global appeal and their designs became one of the most sought after brands.

Stephan Weiss, Karan’s second husband, was very influential in her life. It is said, that he was the inspiration behind most of her menswear. The company was restructured in 1996 and five years later Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE, commonly known as LVMH, the French luxury corporation, bought it. DKNY further ventured into beauty, ragrances, accessories and DKNY Home, which completed all the aspects of a brand.

After a raging success of the brand, Donna Karan decided to step down as chief designer of Donna Karan International. The 67 year old took this decision to dedicate more time to her Urban Zen Company and Foundation. It was then when DKNY announced the arrival of their two newly appointed creative directors; Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne. The duo calls this promotion one of the defining moments of their lives.

The duo already successfully run the brand Public School which has the same design policy as DKNY. The creative directors now over look all the collections and split their time equally between both their brands. The two quickly garnered praise from all over the industry with their trendy design. A dream come true for them, they firmly believe in their design policy of keeping it real.

LVMH, the luxury brand company, who isn’t known for selling off it’s properties decided to let G-III Apparel Group acquire DKNY. The sale is expected to go through by early 2017. According to LVMH, the brand is a better fit under their new umbrella and G-III will give the brand a new perspective. Creative directors, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow already released their first collection and as expected the collection were applauded by critics all over. But one wonders on how they suit the brand’s philosophy? “We are products of our environment, specifically New York. Everything we do is from a non- traditional point of view. We’re inspired by the ideas of appropriation and convergence. Exactly what DKNY was built on,” they said.

Photo Credit Santiago & Mauricio