MAKERS Profile

Donna Karan

Fashion Designer & Philanthropist

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 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.

More From Donna

Coffee Maker and Pencil Sharpener
Interviewed about her life story, fashion designer Donna Karan reveals what the most formative learning years of her career were.

Fired and Rehired by Anne Klein
Donna Karan recalls working for Anne Klein after dropping out of Parsons, getting fired and eventually rehired as Klein's major design assistant.

Advice to Design Students
In this interview, Donna Karan provides three key pieces of advice to young fashion design students.

Working with Louis Dell’Olio
As a working mother, Donna Karan knew she couldn't head Anne Klein by herself. So she implored longtime friend Louis Dell’Olio to join her at Anne Klein.

Calvin, Ralph and Me
In this video, Donna Karan explains what differentiated the three major fashion houses from each other. 

Seventh On Sale
Realizing the there was an AIDS problem within the fashion industry, Donna Karan reached out and urged her colleagues to organize Seventh on Sale, a four-day fashion benefit for the American Foundation for AIDS Research. 

Did Not Want to Be a Working Mom
Fashion designer Donna Karan never intended on being a working mom and debates whether she was home enough for her daughter.

Different Energies
Fashion designer Donna Karan explains why she absolutely needs to have men working around her.