Donna Karan Steps Down as Lead Designer at Donna Karan International

Donna Karan - P 2015
AP Images

Donna Karan - P 2015

The 66-year-old designer is departing her namesake brand in order to invest more time into developing her Urban Zen Foundation.

Donna Karan — arguably one of the most legendary American designers of our time — announced Tuesday that she would be stepping down after 31 years as the chief designer of LVMH-owned Donna Karan International, which comprises both Donna Karan and DKNY. At present, DKI is not seeking a replacement designer for Donna Karan Collection and instead will temporarily suspend the brand's runway shows and collections. An internal restructuring will place greater focus on the development of the DKNY brand.

Though she is departing her designer role, Karan is by no means severing ties with the brand completely. According to the company, Karan still will serve as an adviser to DKI under a long-term agreement. In the meantime, she will be spending more time growing her Urban Zen Foundation.

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Karan said in a release that the decision comes after a period of "soul-searching," after which she decided that she needed "to spend more time to pursue my Urban Zen commitment to its fullest potential and follow my vision of philanthropy and commerce with a focus on health care, education and preservation of cultures." She continued: "After considering the right time to take this step for several years, I feel confident that DKI has a bright future and a strong team in place."

The "strong team" now is composed of several new faces following a series of recent internal changes at the company, including the appointment of Hector Muelas (formerly of Apple) as chief image officer; the departure of Karan's longtime executive vp public relations, Patti Cohen; and the hiring of Public School designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow as creative directors of DKNY.

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Karan's eponymous labels have brought her much success over the years, even landing her at No. 31 on Forbes' list of "Richest Self-Made Women," ahead of fellow designers Vera Wang and Diane von Furstenberg. The 66-year-old said of her label, "Donna Karan is a part of me, past, present and future. I want to express my gratitude and my deepest feelings to the dozens and dozens of colleagues over the years who have helped take Donna Karan New York far beyond my wildest dreams."