Last night Parsons held their annual fashion benefit which celebrates “visionaries” in the fashion industry and showcases the top graduating student collections (more on those later today). Alumna Donna Karan was last night’s honoree (along with mogul and board member Sheila Johnson), and we caught up with the design legend on the red carpet.
She’s still sporting a massive brace on her leg, which she told us she “cracked” working on an ad campaign. But being Donna Karan, she keeps it chic.
“Black cast, wherever it is, wear black, absolutely,” she told us. Karan, who is apparently quite accident prone, has some advice for women who end up with unseemly casts and braces. “You know, they always didn’t do black casts, so I used to put stockings over my casts, because I have a tendency to have a lot of them!” she said. “Putting hosiery on top of a white cast, it’s like a black turtleneck, it’s fantastic.”
And since the Met ball is coming up, celebrating the work of two other visionary female designers, Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli, we had to ask Karan whether she feels like Prada–that it’s hard to be both a feminist and work in fashion. Prada’s comment came on the heels of a recent Style.com article questioning whether it’s harder for women to thrive in fashion considering the CFDA and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund are comprised mostly of men.
“I never had that problem,” she told us. “First of all, I worked for Anne Klein, so we have to start there–my background was working for a woman in design. So being a woman in design, I think it’s like being a doctor. Are you a female doctor, or are you a doctor? A designer is a designer whether she is feminine or masculine, and I think a woman designer has an edge because she knows what we want to wear.”
Karan was lucky to have a start with a mentor like Klein. So what advice does she have for young people trying to break into the industry?
“I really feel my advice to anyone would be work in retail,” she said. “Because that’s where you really get to understand what you’re doing and what your job is.”
That’s some sound advice. How many of you have worked in retail?