NEW YORK — Having built a fashion empire built on a hip New York look during the last quarter-century, Donna Karan is an urban legend. Part of her success has come in continuing to channel the spirit of the city that never sleeps.
For the showing of her fall DKNY collection, Karan decided to enlist some real New Yorkers as models to showcase her streetwise looks. "You can weave your own family," a voice intoned in a video before the show kicked off with rapper Angel Haze in a crepe jumper with fringe sequin collar, faux fur vest and perforated leather jacket.
The novice models were just as professional as the real ones, albeit a little more real-looking, and certainly more diverse.
Nearly half of the 55 looks in the collection were showcased by non-models with cool jobs — tattoo artist, jewelry designer, club host, pro skateboarder and budding entrepreneur (the co-founder of Beautified, an app to locate same-day beauty services). They added some street cred to the clothes and a more festive runway spirit, with whoops of encouragement from friends in the crowd.
The novice models were just as professional as the real ones, albeit a little more real-looking, and certainly more diverse. They sported dreadlocks, 'fros and dyed blue hair — looks that are seldom seen on fashion week runways — and represented a much wider spectrum of racial and ethnic groups.
The collection featured the requisite letter jackets, puffy coats and fur hoods, along with cozy striped shearling coats and tiger-print cardigans. It also has a lot of black — this is, after all, the New York look — in vinyl skirts, a lace-and-faux fur shift and sweatshirts with sequin sleeves. But towards the end, Karan slipped in houndstooth patterns in black and navy, along with pink parkas and a lace slip dress for a more dressed-up occasion.
Getting most of the attention before the show was singer Rita Ora, who caused a near stampede from eager photographers. Ora, who is the face of DKNY in ads, is currently filming Fifty of Shades of Grey, but declined to reveal how the movie version might differ from the book. "I can't spoil it," she said.