My journey with Donna...

by - Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Designers look to the future. They give you what you don't have - or didn't know you need. ~ Donna Karan

It was either 1990 or '91 when I saw it in Saks catalog. The model stood casually awestruck, hands midair, chin-length brunette hair in loose waves, bare legs tight and slim, wearing what looked to be one piece of slate gray suede-like fabric wrapped around her body and draped to a perfect cascade over one shoulder. The only accessory was a sculptured gold belt gracing her hips. I fell in love with that Donna Karan dress the moment my eyes caught it at the turn of the page. Far too expensive to purchase at the time on a design assistant salary, I did what young designers do - ripped out the photo and added it to my style / inspiration notebook. But I really wanted that dress. I vowed to have that dress, and planned to one way or another. It would most definitely be a project I would drape for the pattern then sew on my own. I imagined making it in different fabrics, sophisticated colors. Yes, when I had some free time, that's what I intended to do.

But then I had forgotten all about it until a year and a half later. Waiting on line outside the midtown Parsons Education Center at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 40th, we flocked to the building on our lunch hour seeking admission to a Donna Karan sample sale. We must have waited at least fifty minutes, lunchtime almost gone, when granted entry. People were crowded all over the place, pulling off clothes, pulling on clothes, amid a sea of corrugated boxes and racks. You had to be swift, it was not uncommon for customers to grab something in front of you, no time for indecision. This was my first DK sale and surrounded by all this chaos, I quickly lost interest fighting for a sweater or wrap skirt. It was too crazy for me.

With just ten minutes before I had to be back at the office around the corner, I scurried through the aisles, arbitrarily picking at a couple of boxes. My spirit guide must have been with me that day, because as I reached into one box, pulling out an attractive piece of slate gray fabric, could it be? The one dress I vowed to have one day? YES! SCORE! What a lucky day! It's all about timing...

In her memoir, My Journey, timing is the lifeline Donna Karan accentuates. Like all of us, her life is a series of beginnings and endings. Expressed with candor about love, life, loss, and the pursuit of meaningful experience, how refreshing to hear from such an iconic woman. I love Donna. I always have. I respect her and her talent. I can understand her vision. The fact that her voice is pragmatic, planetary and playful makes her story ardent and amusing for readers whether a follower of fashion or not. Donna, the woman, is real and emotion-full, with quirk and sensation, intimate and straightforward on each page.

As a designer myself, I loved reading about her whirlwind beginnings at Anne Klein, the incarnation of The Seven Easy Pieces and Donna Karan New York. As a fellow woman, her continual quest for calm amid the chaos spoke loudly to me, and has stirred my spirit and creativity. We all have our dreams and duties in this life. Donna is proof you can achieve it all, at the right time with the right people beside you. I am in awe of her Urban Zen formation, a philosophy of living. The concept, clothing and cause "connect, communicate and create change". Philanthropy at its best.

That silk dress has garnered much attention over the years. It has faithfully accompanied me to three weddings, countless ladies' nights, and I did make a rub-off (a muslin of an original garment to create a pattern). I sewed the three-piece pattern in a two-tone cream and taupe silk twill for my daughter's confirmation. See, Donna's been with me on my personal journey for many years now. Directly or indirectly, she's been influencing women all over the world in countless ways.

...I possess the gift of life and light - that we all do - and that the more light I give out, the more I receive. It's the simplest and yet the most empowering knowledge I've ever received.  

Take a journey with Donna... You'll be glad you did... xoxo-Sonya

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