Donna Karan celebrates 30 years on the runway

Donna Karan
Fashion meets function at Donna Karan.
Credit: Getty Images

8:15 p.m.
The mood is surprisingly dark and cold inside the dilapidated bank building where Donna Karan’s anniversary show is taking place. And there’s something really poignant about seeing Aliza Licht, Donna Karan’s longtime Vice President of Public Relations, standing in the middle of the runway, clearing it of stragglers in preparation for the show to start while PR girls speak in headphones in various corners of the room. It reminds you that behind Donna Karan is a team of women who have been powering her operation for decades.

8:20 p.m.
Three models, dressed in tailored jackets, bodysuits, dramatic warrior-esque hats and the sharpest stilettos I’ve ever seen open the show, walking against a backdrop video of lithe, muscular dancers. And with that Donna has established a clear message: fierce clothes for strong, grown women. And that’s really what she’s been known for all along, ever since she singlehandedly changed the direction of women’s work wear in the Eighties. Her trademarks are all here — the fluid chiffon skirts and dresses and the tailored pieces of the power suit, among others — but this doesn’t feel like a rehashing of greatest hits.

If anything it feels like a clarification of her house codes, which resonates especially strongly right now after a year in which feminism and gender equality debates from Sheryl Sandberg to Beyonce have stayed in the headlines. These are easy to wear, elegant clothes that women can actually function in. Not that the bodysuits, coats and dresses on show here are making a grand statement about the state of women’s rights. They’re not even particularly agenda setting in the area of trends. But the fact that Donna Karan’s business is here and thriving in an industry, in which fashion’s most influential and critically adored designers have historically been men is what makes this collection give goosebumps. No wonder Donna has tears in her eyes as she takes her finale walk.

The scene
Hugh Jackman, Katie Holmes and Rita Ora are here, but the people in my section are more excited about seeing Karen Elson and Karolina Kurkova back on the runway.

The major trends
Big, voluminous, shaggy outerwear and heavy chunky knits

What this will mean for your wardrobe
The search for pieces to get you through the next polar vortex shouldn’t be too challenging.



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