Donna Karan – Pre Spring/Summer 2016 Ready-To-Wear
In the wake of China: Through the Looking Glass at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there will be no shortage of collections with Eastern influences, but Donna Karan got there first today with her Resort presentation. “I’m probably one of the only people who hasn’t been to China,” she said. “I want to go so badly this year that I had to bring it here.” East Meets West is the name she gave the collection, and the title illuminated a crucial point about her clothes. Unlike some of the items in the Costume Institute exhibit, Karan’s work doesn’t look like costume. Even the most literal pieces—the off-the-shoulder riffs on kimonos in black and white with deep embroidered cuffs—appeared as if they could slip easily into a Donna customer’s wardrobe.
Black and white were the collection’s dominant colors. The simple, straightforward palette lent the proceedings a sense of versatile realism, as in the raw linen jackets layered over bustier tops and A-line skirts or pleated, loose-fitting judo-length pants. Elsewhere, the designer embraced the more ethereal quality of a spaghetti strap dress with wispy planes of fabric descending to a knee-length hem and other strappy cocktail shifts embellished with crystals and ostrich plumes. All of this really worked for Karan. So much so that when the peony pink and rose quartz evening gowns emerged at the end, they felt somewhat jarring. She called a strapless gown with a black bodice and a white bias-cut skirt with handkerchief points “a real entrance dress,” and she was right.