By: Mary Jo Almeida-Shore and Maryanne Salvat
Neiman Marcus Bal Harbour and Coral Gables joined forces on Thursday, January 20 to host iconic designer and philanthropist Donna Karan, who celebrates 25 years in the fashion industry this year. Over 150 guests gathered at the Coral Gables location for this highly anticipated event, as the Donna Karan Spring 2011 Collection was showcased, with each piece being described and highlighted by Karan and Neiman Marcus Fashion Director Ken Downing. The entire Fine Apparel area of the store was transformed into a runway set-up, complete with a built-in Donna Karan shop featuring the latest pieces. Karan, ever the picture of coolness, fresh from a trip to Australia where she broke her arm, donned a stylish black leather cast lined with cashmere, yoga pants, a bathing suit, stunning scarf, leather beaded necklace and Lanvin flats.
As gazelle-like models sashayed down the runway in beautiful nude silhouettes and body revealing drapings in beige and tan, Karan spoke to clients about her inspiration for the spring collection. During the intimate presentation, she mentioned that her father was a custom tailor and so she has that in her blood- her reason behind starting every collection with a perfect jacket. Karan commented how the fabric has a way of speaking to her and how a tailored look should compliment a woman’s figure. Soft neutrals, muslin, and silk creations inspired by natural elements that transcend from day to evening were featured throughout the collection, which is about “laying down and being the woman that you are, celebrating femininity and sensuality” she explained. The much sought-after red carpet styles are intended to be naturally comfortable without sacrificing glamour and elegance.
Karan spent quite a bit of time discussing her global initiatives, including Urban Zen, which was inspired by her late husband’s struggle with lung cancer. “I’ve spent years dressing people on the outside, I want to dress people inside.” In her intimate and moving conversation with the audience, Karan spoke about the current voids in health care and education. She explained that Urban Zen seeks to create calm in chaos and that more care needs to be given to the nurses. “Nursing is everything we are…as women, as mothers.” She went on to say that people care for disease not patients and that we must look to cultures and wisdom all over the world to make changes in health care and education. A basic tenet of Urban Zen is that when you buy a dress- you help all of the people involved in its creation-it is much deeper than just fashion but an understanding of what clothing means- the preservation of cultures- artisans -working
with hands- indigenous cultures, all of which lead to empowerment. “The goal is to collaborate, communicate and empower.”
Following the fashion presentation, fashion aficionados swarmed the runway to snap shots and meet the designer. Throughout the afternoon guests were treated to a champagne reception and scrumptious lunch bites by Thierry’s Catering, while continuing to shop and mingle. Guests included Sue Miller, Mari Alarcon, Alexia Echevarria, Annelies de Costa Gomez, Yolanda Berkowitz, Debra Scholl, Andria Holtz, Elena Baronoff, Terry Jove, Fernanda Cisneros, and Cheryl Stephenson.
**photo credit: Manny Hernandez