Copies of Connecting the Dots, a new book of her late husband Stephan Weiss' work, were arrayed on a table at Donna Karan's pre-fall presentation today. His biomorphic sculptures very much influenced her strong new collection, which was rendered almost exclusively in bonded jersey, bonded neoprene, and a cotton cupro stretch. In a simple palette of black, white, gray, and henna brown, the clothes felt urban and urbane and connected with the Donna Karan DNA in a way that conjured memories of her influential Seven Easy Pieces from the 1980s.
Bodysuits and body dresses abounded, but suiting also played a star role. Belted peplum jackets worn with skirts that alternately clung or flared boldly to below the knee were sensual and feminine. Round was a key word: Shrugs and coats came cocoon-shaped, and a cropped silk sweatshirt worn with a high-waisted pencil skirt had a sporty ease. Fluid was another one: The tucking, draping, and folding on evening dresses gave them a poured-on feeling that jibed with the Weiss sculptures the designer installed in the showroom for the occasion.
Karan opted not to use fur in this collection. In its place she came up with two compelling substitutes: a crushed wax velvet that from a distance looked like astrakhan, and a laser-cut leather and chiffon. Both are lightweight enough to be worn year-round. You can't say that about mink.