Eight years after purchasing Donna Karan New York, G-III Apparel Group Ltd. is relaunching the iconic ’90s brand—bolstered by eight supermodels in its campaign and the hallmarks of Donna Karan’s original vision in a new collection that offers accessible luxury and stylish clothes people actually want to wear day-to-day.
While Karan herself does not have a hand in this reintroduction, her legacy lives on within each reworked idea created by the in-house Donna Karan New York team; they studied the designer’s archival sketches to reimagine the brand for today. But even vintage DKNY has its place in the current fashion conversation. Recently, Karan’s creations of yore have been gaining a newfound audience among a younger generation of tastemakers. Kendall Jenner and Grace Van Patten have both showed off archival Donna Karan designs recently, and Nicole Richie donned a vintage dress from the label to her sister Sofia’s stylish wedding last spring.
At the heart of this new Donna Karan New York is Karan’s take on the capsule collection. This time, instead of the “Seven Easy Pieces,” as Karan originally introduced them in 1985, Donna Karan New York will offer a “System of Dressing,” characterized by wardrobe necessities—beginning with a Donna Karan classic, the bodysuit, along with a trench coat, fitted black skirt, and wide-leg suit pants. In addition to the spring 2024 collection, rendered in a palette of mostly black and white, there’s also fragrance, eyewear, bags, shoes, and belts on offer, with archival jewelry coming at a later date.
In celebration of the new collection, Donna Karan New York has launched a campaign titled, “In Women We Trust,” an homage to the brand’s Peter Lindbergh-shot campaign of the same name. Back in 1992, the “In Women We Trust” campaign featured images of model Rosemary McGrotha swearing in as the first women president, 16 years before Hillary Clinton (whom Karan also dressed) announced her first run. “The campaign was all about women understanding the power of the woman, to tap into their own inherent power,” Karan told the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2020. “That’s how important clothes are.” Now, 32 years later, eight empowering women, who just so happen to be some of the biggest supermodels in the world—Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Carolyn Murphy, Imaan Hammam, Karlie Kloss, and Liya Kebede—are embody that idea in photographs shot by photographer Annie Leibovitz.
When Karan originally launched the brand 40 years ago, she had just left her decade-long stint as the head designer of Anne Klein with a goal to launch her own brand in order to “design modern clothes for modern people.” Karan quickly became known as the mother of the capsule collection when she launched the concept of “Seven Easy Pieces,” a group of clothes comprised of a bodysuit, skirt, tailored jacket, dress, something leather, white shirt, and cashmere sweater. The idea was simple—armed with high-quality basics, women could dress for any occasion. In the 1985 show that introduced the concept, Karan sent models down the runway in black bodysuits, which they then began to embellish with pieces from the capsule—a wrap skirt, camel coat, white button down—to demonstrate the collection’s versatility.
Donna Karan with her bodysuit-clad models at the Donna Karan spring 1986 ready-to-wear show.
Thomas Iannaccone/WWD/Penske Media via Getty Images
“She introduced a new style of power dressing, which celebrated women and their bodies,” said Crawford in a statement. “That was her sweet spot, and it still is.” Over the years, the makeup of the seven easy pieces has evolved slightly, as Karan (and now, the Donna Karan design team) created updated versions to keep up with the changing times. But the foundation was set in 1985 and has wavered little since. The clothes are beautiful, but simple, because it’s the woman in the garments who should shine.