5 Ways Donna Karan Changed American Fashion

A model posing in Donna Karan's long gown with a cut-out back

Today it was announced that legendary American designer Donna Karan would step down from her post as Chief Designer of Donna Karan and that the label—which is owned by LVMH—would suspend its runway shows and collections for a period of time. While LVMH will continue to produce off-runway collections under the Donna Karan label, one thing is for sure: It’s the end of an era. Here, we celebrate a few of the many ways Karan shaped American fashion as we know it.

How Donna Karan Made A Difference

Photo: Courtesy

She Simplified Our Wardrobes

Donna Karan's signature bodysuits and Seven Easy Pieces concept—which emphasized hero items that could be mixed and matched—put her on the map as a designer in the 1980s and continue to influence minimalist style today.

Photo: via Pinterest

She Redefined The Diffusion Line

When DKNY launched in 1989, it foreshadowed a huge movement towards fast (and flashy) fashion and a growing emphasis on urban style. Smaller, category-specific labels like DKNY Jeans and DKNY Underwear also thrived, painting a picture for the industry of what a true lifestyle brand could look like.

Photo: Courtesy

She Championed Sustainability & Philanthropy

Karan's focus on education, health care and supporting artisans all over the world through her Urban Zen line and foundation created a blueprint for brand philanthropy while also making an incredible difference in the lives of others. (Karan will be focusing on these initiatives full time in her next chapter.)

Photo: @urbanzen

She Took Red Carpet Glamour To A New Place

When it came to drama on the red carpet, Donna had her own particular position on it. Her gowns were typically body conscious, bold in color and accented by a dramatic train, neckline or waist detail that truly wowed. The concept of Hollywood glamour as we know it was undoubtedly affected by her creations.

Photo: @dknyprgirl

She Gave Office Clothes A Powerful Spin

Karen's emphasis on versatility and tailoring in fashion—as well as her laser focus on strong women and urban living—made her a national go-to for workwear clothes for more than three decades. If you're looking for a feminine take on the traditional blazer, pant or shift dress, chances are she's designed (or at least influenced) it.

Photo: Getty Images