Flesh is the focus as Donna Karan celebrates 30 years of dressing women

Designer reveals her autumn line at New York fashion week

Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 18:00

With Rita Ora spilling out of a black wrap dress and Katie Holmes in a chiffon skirt and leather top that was as sleek as a rain-soaked Manhattan street, Donna Karan celebrated 30 years of serving women with meaningful fashion.

The backdrop of the designer’s autumn 2014 show - a hazy female figure, coming and going, in a film from the New York multimedia artist Steven Sebring - underscored how much has changed for women in the time that Karan has been in business.

“Thirty years later, I see style as an evolution, a unique reflection of who you are, where you’ve been and where you are going,” Karan said. The collection, she said, was dedicated to New York: its nonstop motion, its streamlined architecture and its glistening lights, which were caught as bead embellishment.

Donna Karen New York Fashion week

Taking the city as the heart and the art of her work produced a dark palette, with black in all its different hues and tones, and a few splashes of bright red. It is a hot fashion moment for prints, but there were none. And the pants that might have served as a cover-up of the famous Karan bodysuit hardly put in an appearance.

Instead, there was a surprising focus on flesh: the bodysuit under a jacket that left bare skin to the top of thigh-high boots, and wafting chiffon dresses that showed more leg than cloth. To reinforce the illusion of sensuality, skirts were solid near the hem but semi-sheer above the knee, putting a focus on the upper leg. But what Karan called the “long, lean and leggy” look was counterbalanced with texture on jackets that caught a male-female balance perfectly.

The Donna Karan feminine-but-utilitarian style has given a great deal to women, not just in the city she embraces so warmly but across the universe of style.

Every fashion designer dreams of inventing a woman, a mysterious “she,” who becomes a talisman of taste and a cornerstone of individual style. “She’s got a name: I call her ‘Soleil,’” Phillip Lim said backstage, as though the French word for “sun” would cast its rays across his 3.1 Phillip Lim collection. That quirky spirit, with splashes of pop pastels and a seamless switch from pretty to boyish, made for a smart and charming collection.

Midlength dresses, which flared out at the side with light layers of the chalky prints, were balanced by oversize coats and shearling collars that gave a fuzzy softness to sporty pieces. In a crowded show calendar, where it is difficult for a designer to express a vivid personality, Lim really did make the sun shine in.

- The New York Times News Service

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