The Scene: Donna Karan’s Fall 2014 collection at 23 Wall Street
The Inspiration: Karan is celebrating the 30th anniversary of her eponymous label and wanted to create an ode to the city that has provided her with endless inspiration, so where better to present the collection than in the shadow of the New York Stock Exchange; all lit up, the majestic building loomed large across the street. Exit conversations dropped the words “greatest hits” here and there, but Karan’s collection was more than that: In her show notes she name-checked her famed “seven easy pieces” that launched in 1984—the perfect bodysuit, the scarf that serves endless purposes, the military-tinged jacket—but these were chic updates for today’s modernity, with a narrower shoulder, an overall longer, leaner feel, and a bit of knife-sharp edge in detail.
The Look: Just as Karan desired 30 years ago, pieces in this collection could serve as the foundation of a highly chic wardrobe. She kicked off the show with a military air, aided in part by Stephen Jones’ officers’ hats (on the way home we debated whether that was goat hair sprouting from the top), with odes to her bodysuit whipped into a slim, sleek jacket or a wool and silk-chiffon shirt, as well as an update on that bodysuit, seen here in jersey and illusion tulle under a cashmere felt peplum belt that could be a wrap miniskirt for the truly brave. More great jackets anchored other looks, over skirts in jersey or panels of silk chiffon, and there was a pair of great mid-calf dresses in charcoal jersey with sleeves or cut-out slices of illusion tulle, perhaps a nod to how much Karan has loved showcasing shoulders over the years. But the true stars of the show were the evening dresses in velvet devoré, another look that has become part of the Karan DNA but felt wholly new here as they slithered along the body in gold, ruby, charcoal or black. (The latter color, unsurprisingly, dominated the collection; Karan, after all, was the one who birthed the notion of New York girls unabashedly devoted to their closets filled with noir clothes.)
The Accessories: Karan and jewelry designer Robert Lee Morris have crafted some stellar collabs over 30 years, and in the evening portion of this collection, we saw some lust-worthy cuffs in a jagged gold that evoked thoughts of the New York skyline.
The Beauty: M.A.C’s Charlotte Tilbury created a smoky eye with a touch of glint inside—a little edge, a little glamour and perfect with all that black; what could be more New York?
The Casting: Karlie Kloss, Karen Elson, Hilary Rhoda and Karolina Kurkova were the A-listers on the runway, while Karan’s front row was equally star-studded, with Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-Lee Furness, Katie Holmes, Bernadette Peters and Rita Ora among those attending.
The Takeaway: “30 years later, I see style as an evolution, a unique reflection of who you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going,” said Karan in her show notes. “For me, it’s fueled by living in New York, a glorious, ever-changing window to the world.” That was only one part of Karan’s love letter to the city; the other was on the runway, and 30 years from now, the conversation she started will feel just as relevant.