After more than 30 years at the creative helm of the company she founded, Donna Karan is stepping down as chief designer of Donna Karan International, the brand announced Tuesday. The 66-year-old pioneer of American fashion will remain with the company in an advisory role and plans to dedicate more time to her Urban Zen Company and Foundation.
According to a release issued by the LVMH-owned company, DKI will not seek to replace Karan, and will suspend the Donna Karan collection runway shows and collections "for a period of time." DKI will also reorganize its internal teams and structures so to "substantially increase its focus on the DKNY brand."
Karan confirmed her departure in a statement, saying:
"Donna Karan New York is a part of me, past, present and future. It has been an honor to speak woman to woman about Seven Easy Pieces that forever changed the way women dress. 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."
Women's Wear Daily was the first announce the news.
In 1984 at the age of 37, Karan launched the Donna Karan label with her late husband Stephan Weiss and Takiyho Inc., after working as the head of design at Anne Klein. She showed her first women's collection in 1985, and was credited with reinventing the working woman's wardrobe with Seven Easy Pieces, composed of seven versatile items designed to go from day to night, weekday to weekend.
DKI went public in 1996 to much initial success, and was purchased by LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton five years later for $243 million. The DKI umbrella extends to its contemporary, less expensive offshoot, DKNY, launched in 1989, as well as DKNY Jeans, DKNY Active, DKNY Underwear, DKNY Jeans Juniors and DKNY Kids.
This comes less than three months after DKNY appointed Public School's Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne as its new creative directors, and six weeks after Karan's very first employee, communications chief Patti Cohen, left the company. The former will present their first collection for the brand during New York Fashion Week in September.
Karan is planning to release a memoir this October.
This post was updated to include Karan's official statement, as well as the information that DKI will suspend the Donna Karan collection for the time being.