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Donna Karan’s Spring Break

Saks hosted the designer's South Beach party. Poolside, of course.

031814_DONNA_KARAN_SPRING_BREAK_BANNER_760x362It’s hard to believe, but we’ve been having a Donna Karan moment for three decades now and luckily it shows no signs of stopping. To celebrate the label’s 30th anniversary and the launch of our Bal Harbor store’s designer floor renovation, Saks Fifth Avenue hosted Donna for a few days of sun and fun with the South Florida fashion crowd.

And a busy few days it was. Thursday afternoon found Donna and newly-minted Saks President Marigay McKee at the SLS South Beach hotel, lunching with clients and enjoying an intimate Q&A discussion. Later in the evening, cocktails were served alongside an exclusive runway showing of Karan’s Spring 2014 collection. Invited guests—including the ever-photogenic Adriana Lima—took in the gauzy gowns and boho prints, afterwards indulging in a little bubbly and DJ beats.

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Friday morning, customers visited Saks Bal Harbor’s newly renovated Donna Karan boutique to shop that spring collection at a trunk show benefiting the Women of Tomorrow, a Miami-based mentoring program. (After all, is there a more empowering female role-model than Karan?) As her Florida sojourn came to an end, we caught a few minutes with the designer to chat about her latest inspirations and spring getaway plans.

In your spring show, we saw a lot of blue, terracotta, leather & geometric prints. What was your inspiration?
Where is your girl going?

Karan: Spring was a journey – literally. I went to India in search of a particular scarf, which ultimately I never found. What I did find was a world of color, pattern and texture – all created with the artisan hand. I took the many hand-blocked scarves I found and twisted and sliced them into dresses and skirts that look effortless and breezy. I also played with sunbaked leather the color of terracotta and embellished it with grommets and jigsaw patterns. Though the journey started in India, it quickly came home to New York in a chic urban wardrobe that takes her anywhere she’s going.

Now that it’s starting to warm up, what are your plans for spring? Any getaways?
Karan: I have a million projects going on with my design work, my foundation Urban Zen, as well as helping my daughter with her new restaurant in Tribeca. The thing I’m most desperate to do is travel, and I’m trying to plan some trips for April. I’m also hoping to have a yoga retreat in Parrot Cay where I have a home.

Where (or what) are you looking to for inspiration at the moment?
Karan: Inspiration is all around me. New York fuels everything I do – the energy, the excitement, the buildings, lights, the colors. The view out the windows of my design studio, for example, never fails to take my breath away. Sure, I can go to India and be mesmerized, but ultimately it always comes back to New York.

You started as an assistant designer and worked your way up. What advice do you have for aspiring designers looking to make it in fashion industry?
Karan: The best advice I can give is to get a job in retail. Get to know your customer – what she likes, what she needs, how she wants her clothes to fit her body. Yes, you need the technical training to make the clothes, but you also need to get in that dressing room and understand the woman you hope to dress.

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