Donna Karan

Designer

| Manhattan

Is there anyone more “New York” than Donna Karan? “I can’t list just one neighborhood,” Karan tells us mid-interview. “I live uptown, I went into the Donna Karan International headquarters in midtown for years and my Urban Zen Center is down in the [West] Village so I’ve always had the best of all worlds.” Of course, we’d have to agree, though more for Karan’s mark on fashion than on real estate. A born-and-bred New Yorker, Karan’s eponymous label has been the benchmark for urban-minded dressing since the mid-’80s— it was she who made bodysuits powerful, bare shoulders sexy, and black-on-black chic. Over the years, she’s perfected the quintessential city wardrobe— the sleek blazer, the cozy overcoat, the sensual dress— all of which she’s sent down her skyline-dotted runways time and time again… leaving us thinking not, “what would Donna do without New York,” but, “what would New York do without Donna?” Even when, in 2015, she stepped down from her eponymous brand to embrace the next chapter of her life, fashion design still found its place in Karan’s world– as the Creative Director of Urban Zen. If you aren’t familiar with it, think of it as her personal love letter to her life, both in New York and beyond (think home accents, relaxed women’s wear and collected, global treasures). If you ask us, there couldn’t be a more beautiful metamorphosis. Here, Karan sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal her little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Tutto il Giorno on Franklin Street (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x). I always order the penne, but honestly every dish is beyond. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my daughter’s place.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: It’s always been Sette Mezzo (MAP IT, x) and Nobu (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x), but Tutto is right up there too.

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: “My” New York is Central Park— it grounds me– so I’d take visitors there or in a boat around the city. But, if I was introducing someone to the city for the first time, I would have them see the skyline at night from my terrace on Central Park West— it’s magical.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A vodka tonic at Tutto. Lately, I’ve been living there. It’s home. I love everything about the atmosphere— all of the art is my husband Stephan’s and the crystal and wrought iron chandeliers were made by my friend Cookie in Haiti.   

BEST BRUNCH: I love Bar Pitti in the Village (MAP IT, x); the people watching can’t be beat.

HEALTHY STAPLE: Wild (MAP IT, BOOK IT) for a mushroom and arugula pizza (everything there is gluten-free).

GUILTY PLEASURE: Dark chocolate. Aloha is my favorite, but any brand will do. I eat it anywhere and everywhere.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: Our sunrises and sunsets; you have to experience them to see what I mean.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The skyline.

REGULAR AT: I love Yoga Shanti on 24th Street (MAP IT, x). My yoga teachers, Rodney Yee (x) and Colleen Saidman (x) teach there so I always check the schedule.

CLOSET CHECK: I love the drama of black and white. I have lots of cashmere-covered banquets and artisan pieces I’ve picked up from my travels all over the world— of course, I never buy just one which is why you can find very similar pieces in the marketplace at Urban Zen on Greenwich Street (MAP IT, x).

ACCESSORIES PICK: New York inspires me from every angle. For DKNY, it’s about being, walking, strolling on the streets. For Collection, it’s more about an arial view or one from a boat; it’s viewing the breadth of the city like you would a work of art.

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: Central Park. I also love to ride my bike along the Hudson River— anything that gets me up and moving in nature (even right here in the city).

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Urban Zen. We’ve filled the store with a treasure trove of objects of desire. Also, Floréal Flowers (MAP IT, x)— ask for Marie.

BEAUTY BLACK BOOK: Dr. Frank Lipman (MAP IT, x), a wellness and acupuncturist physician.

FIT PICK: I’m lucky– I have someone come to my apartment every morning for either yoga or pilates (Rodney (x) or Colleen (x) from Yoga Shanti). It’s a great way to start the day.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Ha! That describes my whole life: I rang the bell on Wall Street when our company went public; I’ve seen my name lit up in Times Square; but, one of my favorite moments was when we unveiled a two-tone, brass Apple sculpture by my husband, Stephan Weiss, in Hudson River Park. He loved New York and now he’ll be a part of it forever. CP

Donna’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Design by Urban Zen; Floréal arrangement; Karan with her yoga gurus, Colleen and Rodney; Design by Urban Zen. Second Row: Tutto Il Giorno; Detailed beaded jewelry by Urban Zen; Inside Karan’s NYC home; Pizza from Wild.

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