Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Profile

Donna Karan

Fashion Designer & Philanthropist

More From Donna

In this video

Donna Karan shares her life story in this video interview. The fashion designer explains how she had planned on being a stay-at-home mom until an unexpected turn led to becoming the head of the Anne Klein design team when she was only 25 years old. In her 30 years in the fashion industry, Karan has redefined the modern woman's dress with her eponymous Donna Karan label.

Donna's Biography

Loss of Her Father and Working Mom:"I don't think I've ever gotten over it. I think, you know, being a working mom is the one thing I never wanted to be."
First Fashion Show:"I did a fashion show when I was in high school. So I used to hang out in the Art Department."
Seven Easy Pieces:The bodysuit, the skirt, the blazer, the sweater, scarf, an evening piece…and accessories.
10 Minutes Early or 10 Minutes Late:60 minutes late.

Donna Karan never expected to be a working mother, but at 25 years old with a newborn baby girl, Karan was asked to take the helm of women's sportswear and apparel label, Anne Klein. After 10 years of leading the design team of Anne Klein, Karan was "fired" and from the label and rehired to create her own eponymous Donna Karan New York and later her DKNY labels.
Karan's 30 year span in the fashion industry has allowed her the opportunity to reach a wide range of people with her philanthropic efforts. At the height of the AIDS epidemic, Karan implored her colleagues to organize Seventh on Sale, a four-day fashion benefit for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. In 2007, Karan cofounded Urban Zen, a model of philanthropy and commerce, was founded by Donna Karan to create, connect and collaborate in order to raise awareness and inspire change.
Karan has been awarded the CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year and became the first woman to win the CFDA's award for Menswear Designer of the Year. In 2012, Karan was presented with a Clinton Global Citizen Award for her relief work in Haiti.
In July 2015, Karan announced that she will step down as chief designer of her brand to focus on her philanthropic work with Urban Zen.

Related Videos

Andrea Reusing
Andrea Reusing

Andrea Reusing is dedicated to the sustainable agriculture movement. Her Chapel Hill, North Carolina local and organic restaurant, Lantern, was voted one of the “best farm-to...

Rachel McLish
Rachel McLish
First Female Bodybuilding Champion

Rachel McLish is a female bodybuilding champion, actress and author. When she earned the inaugural Ms. Olympia bodybuilding title in 1980, she put the sport of women’s bodybu...

Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor
First Female Justice, U.S. Supreme Court

Sandra Day O’Connor is the daughter of ranchers—and, equally, of the land on the New Mexico-Arizona border that she and her family worked during the Great Depression. S...

Lydia Villa-Komaroff
Lydia Villa-Komaroff
Molecular Biologist

Lydia Villa-Komarrof's decision to pursue a career in science was decidedly unconventional for Mexican American upbringing in Santa Fe, New Mexico. "Traditionally, Hispani...