Freezing temperatures and ice-slick pavement could not keep us away from 23 Wall Street last night, Hugh Jackman and Katie Holmes included. Naturally, only a true force of fashion could have this kind of pull, and Donna Karan’s 30th anniversary runway show was the occasion.
Do you remember the first important piece of clothing you bought? I do. It was a black Donna Karan bodysuit that I was sure would change my life and elevate me from college years into adulthood. And you know what? It did. I wore it everywhere and with everything.
Decades later, she and I have both come full circle. The show began with the best of Donna in monochrome black, her greatest hits, including the famed cotton bodysuit, a body-shirt, a body-jacket: the building blocks that lay the foundation for a woman’s life. Her story unfolded in visions of charcoal and ivory vicuna with bursts of ruby and white, a color palette pulled from New York, the city that fuels her.
A video by photographer Steven Sebring set the mood, images of women in movement (and of course, in Donna Karan) set the mood for clothes with maximum fluidity and draping. Her greatest hits – like the slinky velvet and silk-chiffon eveningwear, the long-haired shearling jackets, and the viscose and wool stretch-jersey pieces – are currently exhibiting influence on runways all over New York. It’s undeniable that so many talented young designers in New York City today are mere derivatives of the one and only Donna.
And no one can do it better than her. The best of the best here included a needle-punched wool-felt jacket, with cutouts and jet hand-embroidery, worn with an illusion-tulle bodysuit and silk-chiffon skirt, as well as a dramatic silk-chiffon and jersey evening dress in ruby, worn by Karlie Kloss. Thigh-high boots for sky-scraping sex appeal and bits of gold velvet devoré only increased the sense of glamour.
From the deep connection to the metropolis where we sat to the stunning beauty of the latest creations to reflecting on three decades of Donna: it all made for an emotional and powerful show, one that gave me the chills (and I know they had nothing to do with the cold space).
Fashion is about more than trends. It’s about self-expression and nostalgia. What do you associate with your best memories? For me, it was always my clothes. What I wore is almost as important as what I did. And tonight, we bore witness to what Donna Karan has done for the fashion industry – and for individual women and their personal experiences – over the course of the last 30 years.