Donna Karan Approached Fall Collection with ‘Consciousness’ Intact

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Photo: UnBeige

What’s a designer to do after attending last week’s TED conference and before showing a collection during New York Fashion Week? Well, if you’re Donna Karan, you spend the evening in conversation with Pamela Golbin—curator-in-chief of twentieth century and contemporary fashion at the Musée de la Mode et du Textile in Paris—and a sold-out crowd of fans (we spotted Fern Mallis among them) at New York’s French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF). Last night, Karan kicked off FIAF’s 2009 Fashion Talks series on a pensive and passionate note, reflecting on her own career in fashion while providing the audience with a few cryptic hints about the Donna Karan New York fall 2009 collection that she will show on Monday afternoon at her Greenwich Street studio.

“Consciousness” was the key word of the evening. “When I think of Donna Karan the company, I think of a woman’s consciousness,” said Karan, as cinematic images from print campaigns past looped on a screen behind her. “It’s about the role that women play and the energy needed today.” Energy and emotions are also the starting points for her design process (she is more likely to be inspired by a handful rocks in East Hampton than the artists who once worked there or the seasonal zeitgeist that now does), the end point of which she characterizes as “comfortable, sensual, day to evening” and “hopefully, a mix of fantasy and function.”

By the sound of it, fantasy may hold more sway than usual in her fall 2009 collection. “It’s done with what’s right for now. I’m designing with consciousness,” she said. “I find it a very challenging time, but it gets your creative juices flowing.” Expect the usual “core base of neutrals,” but “I’m not designing a lot of black for fall,” she told the crowd, before assuring them that color pieces shown would also be available in black. “I’m fascinated to see how [press, buyers, and consumers] are going to respond to this collection,” she said. “I’m very happy with it right now. It looks like Donna Karan.” And who would she like to see also looking like Donna Karan? “I am dying to dress Tilda Swinton…and Michelle Obama.”