Designer Donna Karan looked in her closet awhile ago and - good grief! - there were no Saturday clothes. Plenty of cashmere. Plenty of dressy wool crepe. Plenty of chiffon and sequins. But no clothes to kick around in on Saturday.
So, Karan decided to do something about it. She created DKNY.The line - full of such Saturday essentials as blazers, jeans, swingy skirts, denim dresses and snappy T-shirts - isn't even remotely like her expensive Donna Karan New York collection. Karan's high-priced outfits are trend-setting fashions. The things you find in DKNY are good, basic clothes.
But, hey, who's complaining! Everybody needs the kind of things Karan has incorporated into the line - even the classiest, richest ladies who ride around in limos. As for the rest of us, well, DKNY seems custom-made for the fast-paced, demanding existences we lead; existences that necessitate rugged, versatile, practical apparel that isn't fancy and doesn't cost a fortune.
The DKNY clothes, while certainly not bargain-basement fare, are within the realm of reason - spring jackets are checking in at stores all across the country these days at $200 to $250; pants are priced around $140; tanks, $25. And, according to Kelly McArthur, West Coast merchandising coordinator for the new Donna Karan line, the garments are worth every penny.
Now, that's a strong statement. But McArthur backs it up by pointing out that the clothes aren't going to be out of style by next season and probably will look smart virtually forever. If a woman's going to invest in something, they'll give her fashion mileage for her money.
McArthur was in Salt Lake City recently to explain this concept and promote the new line. On a Saturday afternoon she met informally with customers in the Savvy Department of Nordstrom's at Crossroads Plaza. Local models were on hand to show off Karan's Saturday clothes; a combo played, a video of the New York opening of the collection flashed, and light refreshments were served throughout the afternoon.
It wasn't like those formal fashion shows. It was more fun, more laid back - just like the clothes.
The clothes, said McArthur, take their inspiration from the streets of New York. They reflect the energy, the pace, the style, the stamina necessary for survival. Even the name of the collection has its roots on the street. Karan liked the sound of NYPD - New York Police Department - and tried to emulate it when she named the line.
The line revolves around such basic neutrals as navy, khaki, white, taupe and occasional prints and brights. The white T-shirt is a key piece. Bodysuits, long a signature of the designer, are featured as well. Terrific knits put in an appearance, as do wool gabardine jackets and pants, and soft silk looks. Outerwear has a category all its own, and there are some sensational denim jackets, hooded parkas and trenchcoats.
The beauty of the clothes, in addition to their timelessness, is their versatility. Most of them, explained McArthur, can either be dressed down with Keds or given a more sophisticated appearance with more tailored or dressy accessories.
The accessories the designer likes to see with her outfits are the creations of the man who started the Artwear movement, Robert Lee Morris. Noted for his burnished matte gold jewelry, he has done the finishing touches for styles in the high-priced Donna Karan line since its inception.
For DKNY, Morris has come up with a charming variety of street symbols. Mailbox earrings, graffiti letters, pins shaped like manhole covers, necklaces jingling with the tiny figures of people - all different kinds of people like you'd see on the subway.
Speaking of all kinds of people brings up one of the major advantages this line offers. According to McArthur, it appeals to all women, no matter how old or young they are.
There's something here for everyone, she emphasized, especially the person whose career necessitates a lot of travel.
"We deal in seasonless fabrics that pack well and adapt to all kinds of climates," explained the fashion coordinator, who lives in Los Angeles. "In the course of introducing this spring collection, I'm traveling to many different cities, and I'm dealing with all kinds of weather and temperature changes. Already these clothes are proving to be ideal for my kind of life!"