Donna Karan chose to celebrate her silver anniversary with a collection she called Forever Black. ‘25 years ago, we started with a city, a bodysuit, a pair of tights and the power of a woman,’ she said. And a quarter a century on she brought her fashion story back to the home page by re-visiting the classics.
Black is the uniform of the NY fashionista: urban and sophisticated. It was Donna who created an image for that ultra capable chick and gave her the wardrobe to go with her punishing schedule. So for AW 2010 she re-visited the pillars of that look: the body shirt, the cardigan coats, the skinny stretch pant, the jersey dresses and the slinky satin evening sheaths. And she did it all in shades of black and dark grey that looked like a wet bitumen palette. The only relief was a shot of blue but that was more petrol in a puddle than anything reflecting the sky.
She took the silhouette away from the body and gave us volume. Given that there is a band of frigid weather moving in and the NY streets are lined with slush, we know too well that the best way to beat the freeze is with layers, so Donna is bang on message with her easy shearlings and collarless coats with cocoon roundness. But I was missing the sexy drape and the summer’s focus on the waist.
This ease of silhouette has always made Donna, at her best, one of the most forgiving and woman friendly designers and this collection was all about giving a gal room to expand, move, breathe and, hell, even eat. There were curves but they were gentle, not forced or tight. The mood was relaxed but glamorous. Those curvy jackets and long lean legs were accessorised with jet collars that did double duty either as jewellery on a simple dress or creating a glittering finish on a collarless top layer: a perfect piece if you need your wardrobe to do a lot of day to evening stuff. The huge layered petal collars seemed less convincing as a solution and more of like someone making a fashion statement which seemed out of step with the darkly romantic but perfectly practical mood.
Her signature evening dresses came in bias cut hammered satin, another fabric that forgives those extra helpings at the dinner table. Backless, slinky, floor length and completely timeless, they were Donna Karan at her very best.
- Paula Reed in New York