Donna Karan never wanted to be a fashion designer.
That was the most revealing news that emerged Thursday afternoon at the Festival of New at the New School, where Karan and Kay Unger spoke on a panel titled, “The Power of Reinvention.” The panel was moderated by Michelle Lee, editor in chief of Allure.
“I hated fashion. My mother was in fashion, my father was in fashion. My father was a custom tailor,” said Karan.
“I wanted to sing like Barbra Streisand and I wanted to dance like Martha Graham,” she said. While she was “into dancing and the bodysuit, and all that,” she wasn’t that great a dancer. “But I dressed them instead,” said the 71-year-old fashion designer.
As a young woman, Karan applied to WWD for an illustration job, but was told she wasn’t good at illustrating. She had been deciding between attending F.I.T. for illustration or Parsons for fashion design. She chose Parsons. “I didn’t do so well at Parsons either because I failed draping,” said Karan. She also said when she made her first dress, she had her iron on it, and burned it.
Among the topics that Unger and Karan discussed were their first jobs, what it was like being
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