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Karan at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival
Donna Ivy Faske
October 2, 1948
Queens, New York, United States
Hewlett High School
The New School (Parsons division)
|Spouse(s)||Mark Karan (1976–1978)
Stephan Weiss (1983–2001; his death)
Karan was born Donna Ivy Faske to mother Helen ("Queenie") and father Gabby Faske in the Forest Hills neighborhood of the Borough of Queens, New York City. Her family is Jewish. Karan's mother had been a model and had also worked in designer Chester Weinberg's showroom. Her father was a tailor and haberdasher who died when Donna was three years old. Karan and her older sister Gail were raised by their mother in Woodmere, in the Five Towns region of Nassau County, New York. She graduated from Hewlett High School in 1966, and then went to the Parsons School of Design.
After leaving college, Karan worked for Anne Klein, eventually becoming head of the Anne Klein design-team, where she remained until 1985, when she launched her Donna Karan label.
Karan began her career as an assistant designer with Anne Klein in the late 1960s, where she was promoted to associate designer in 1971. As Klein's assistant, Karan was a participant in The Battle of Versailles Fashion Show on November 28, 1973. When Klein herself died in 1974, Takihyo Corporation of Japan became the new owner and Karan, together with her former classmate and friend Louis Dell'Ollio, became head designer of the house. In 1984, Karan left Anne Klein and, together with her then husband Stephan Weiss and Takihyo Corporation, started her own business "to design modern clothes for modern people". She showed her first women's clothing collection in 1985.
Karan became well known for her 'Essentials' line, initially offering seven easy pieces centered around the bodysuit which could all be mixed and matched, and created a fully integrated wardrobe with her First Collection in 1985. Karan always insisted that she would only design clothes, like jersey dresses and opaque Lycra tights, that she would also wear herself.
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