Steven: Donna Karan And Chanel

Donna Karan is only human, but what a designer!


In terms of trendsetters -- which fads do you believe should have become trends?
I don't really buy into fads and trends as rule. I think it's important for every woman to dress according to her body type and lifestyle, and forget about what any fashion forecaster thinks they should be wearing. In all of my work, I strive to make sure that my clients won't look at pictures five, 10 or 15 years down the line and say to themselves, "what on earth was I thinking when I let him talk me into buying that dog of a dress?!"

What would YOU have done with shoulderpads?
I think if I had gotten shoulder pads, I might have gone the Faye-Dunaway-as-Joan-Crawford route. I think Mommie Dearest is important stylistically because the designs incorporated the strength or '40's fashion with the slinky sexiness of the late '70's (the film was shot in 1981, so there was still some of the residual '70's sensuality in the designs). The combination of the two periods shows some great effects because the '70's influence eliminated a lot of the boxiness of the WWII era.

In terms of creating a collection, how much does cohesion matter to you?
I think cohesion within a collection is highly important. The pieces should all be geared toward the same woman, or at least the same sensibility, while applied to different body types.

Do you think of trends when you create your own lines?
I really do try to steer clear of trends for the most part. When I refer to trends, I mean anything that might last less than a year or two. Most of what I create would be deemed to have a classic or vintage feeling, but I draw from certain decades as a whole, rather than minute time slots.

What trend would you like to be known for?
If I could be known for a trend--a trend that actually lasted for a great amount of time--it would be hats. The right hat can add such a polish a flair to an outfit. I was at a store opening a couple of weeks ago and had a very interesting experience: I saw a woman, who by most standards would be considered out of shape and not necessarily pretty--but she had the most amazing assymetrical hat on. Even though she was walking out the door in a winter coat, she came across as this terribly intriguing woman that I wanted to get to know, and it was all because of this hat. She was just a delight and had a great personal flair, which I cannot say for any of the other comatose stick figures wandering around the store in their babydoll knit tops.
What did you think of Chris?
What a curious question. As a person, I think he's an absolute delight. I can't tell you how many great laughs that we had at the expense of ourselves and others! Sometimes we would find ourselves draping and crying because we were laughing so hard! As a designer, I think he has immense talent and he has accomplished looks that I have seen on his website, that I never would have even dreamed physically possible. He has a phenomenal imagination.


There is a one minute stretch of time where you all have to choose your own teams. What was that like?
I just kind of fell into the Chris and Sweet P team. It all went so fast I don't really remember it too much--we were all there and it just sort of happened.

What did you think when you saw Donna Karan as a guest judge?
At some point when you're just meeting famous person after famous person as we were, a wonderful thing happens: the novelty wears off and they become simply human, rather than a huge star around whom you must act like an idiot. To me, Donna Karan did for the working woman's wardrobe what Chanel did 60 years before--she strengthened clothes in a very important way, with a very long-lasting effect. Ms. Karan is an extremely intelligent figure and I would love to learn more from her.


At this point in the competition, what was going through your head? How did you feel about the schedule?
After episode 2's outcome, I was very leery of working in teams again. I was just plain scared, honestly. I don't like the idea of a whole group going down on a ship because there is one outfit the judges don't care for. There's the whole issue of responsibility and blame and I'd much rather be responsible for my actions, and if possible, only my actions. I can't quite decide if that's my inner self-preservationist coming through or if it just makes me a dreadful self-involved person.

You seemed to work well with Chris and Sweet P. What are your feelings on collaboration?
The whole business of working with people you don't know is all rather tricky. It requires diplomacy and a bit of walking on egg shells because after all, who wants to be the bitch? I wish I had known them better when we started working together, but the truth is that I got to know them better by working with them. There are definitely things I would have done differently within the challenge if given the chance, but hindsight is 20/20, no? However, one thing I wouldn't change is working with Chris and Sweet P. They're both such amazingly talented people with great souls to them. I miss them very much.

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