Some days it feels as though nothing goes right and without a doubt Donna Karan must have felt that way in the 24 hours leading up to her 30th anniversary show. The heat at her Wall Street location decided to not work and was not repairable. Light tests showered frightening sparks onto the catwalk. Little details, like a streaming Internet feed, just had to be dropped to focus on larger issues. Of course, problems of this magnitude only happen when the entire world is watching. There wasn’t time to change venues. That Ms. Karan was able to pull off a show at all under these conditions is nothing short of a miracle.
Yet, pull off a show she did, and it was perhaps the most spectacular of her illustrious career. Starting with a short film by Steven Sebring that she commissioned specifically for this event, the chill of the venue was lost (sort of) in the heat of sensuality coming down the runway. If anyone came expecting some kind of retrospective, they were in for a shock. Sure, there were some calls back to her Seven Easy Pieces and certainly references to the body suit that started it all 30 years ago. Even those icons received all new treatments, though. Ms. Karan made it clear that she’s not looking back to rest on her laurels. She’s charging forward with more energy than ever.
From the very beginning, the emphasis was on jackets, frequently worn as very short dresses, with over-the-knee suede boots and night porter hats topped with long-haired shearling. The look was brazen, sexy, and yet still refined. There was chiffon and cashmere and some amazing gold embroidery. There were artisanal touches and hand-punched patterns. There were cobweb knits flowing gracefully over sheer, pleated skirts. There was sheer; lots and lots and lots of sheer.
The color palette was straight-forward: all solids, no prints, heavy on black. Also missing was anything remotely resembling pants. This collection is all dresses and coats.
After the show, Ms. Karan told WWD: “I wanted to show the strength of the woman. I wanted to show that after 30 years I think we stand for something that is absolutely, iconically Donna Karan. I wanted it to be a reflection of the past, and the present coming into the future. I wanted it to be about art, the city, the body, movement, the strength of tailoring, evening.”
Well done, Ms. Karan. Mission accomplished.