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Breaking: Donna Karan to Step Down as Chief Designer of Her Brand

By Sophia Chabbott  

Breaking designer news: Donna Karan is stepping down from namesake company Donna Karan International.

WWD reports that the 66-year-old designer is leaving the design world to focus on her philanthropic work with Urban Zen, which according to its website, aims to "raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of preservation of cultures, well-being, and education."

"I have arrived at a point in my life where I need to spend more time to pursue my Urban Zen commitment to its fullest potential and follow my vision of philanthropy and commerce with a focus on health care, education, and preservation of cultures," Karan told WWD. "After considering the right time to take this step for several years, I feel confident that DKI has a bright future and a strong team in place.”

This announcement comes right on heels of the April announcment that Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne would become designers for Karan's contemporary brand DKNY.

To say Donna Karan is a fashion-industry icon is an understatement. She was an integral part of building the foundation of American fashion design, having come up alongside Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Oscar de la Renta, and Bill Blass in the '80s. What's more, she was one of the few female designers, designing for women — which earned her a devoted female fan base who felt she really understood their bodies and their needs.

After assisting Anne Klein for several years, the New York native started her namesake label in 1985, with what would become her signature "seven easy pieces." She envisioned the interchangeable jersey bodysuits, dresses, cocoon blazers, etc. would become the foundation of a woman's wardrobe. And they did.

Karan has been bestowed every significant fashion award there is and most notably, her eighth CFDA award came in 2003 for Lifetime Achievement. She was also one of Glamour's Women of the Year in 2007.

Update: According to a statement from Donna Karan International, the firm will not seek to replace Karan as chief designer for the Donna Karan label quite yet. Shows and collections will be suspended for a period of time.

Learn more about her story by watching her MAKERS video above.

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Photo Credit: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images