Being acquired is never easy, and Donna Karan has had some bumpy moments in the two years since French luxury goods conglomerate LVMH bought her company. In a nutshell, she’s Dharma and they’re Greg. But under her free-spirited, New Age exterior is a true Seventh Avenue businesswoman who doesn’t let a few challenges get in her way.
With her boss (LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, in a rare U.S. appearance) and a fresh crop of company executives sitting in the front row, Karan sent out a sensuous, assertive collection that included references to her own groundbreaking designs of two decades ago. Wool jersey—a fabric to which Karan laid claim from the start of her career—started the show, made into cat suits and skintight dresses inset with silver rings made by her old friend Robert Lee Morris. Karan has famously shed weight on a raw-foods-and-yoga regime, and her renewed love of a long, lean figure was evident. She put emphasis on the midriff, tailoring jackets like corsets to hug the body, wrapping coats and dresses with shiny black leather obis and cutting pants high and tight on the waist. Some of the outerwear pieces, done in loamy brown or ivory cashmere tweeds, creamy goatskin or nubby stretch wool touched with patent leather, were cut along classic fit-and-flare lines; others were done in generous kimono styles that slouched off the body. The designer also played with sequins, tossing a few onto tweed separates, mixing others with suede on a funky beige dress.
The body beautiful got even more so for evening, as Karan showed a series of goddess-like silk jersey dresses in black or ivory, pulled and draped, with more of Morris’s silver rings. Altogether, it was a solid defense of Karan’s signature thesis—that power dressing and sex appeal can, like Dharma and Greg, go hand in hand.
Fall 2003 Ready-to-Wear
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