Donna Karan Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection Review — The Artisan Stroke

The Spring 2012 Donna Karan runway presentation opened with her Casual Luxe capsule line of 12 looks before transitioning to her eponymous collection. Entitled The Artisan Stroke, the collection of 41 looks channeled a vagabond spirit. World traveler Donna Karan gave us a snapshot of her recent journey and invited us to share in the sartorial photo album of her tribal adventures. The designer noted backstage that this was a collection about sensuality and sexuality. While she is often inspired by Bali, this season she shifted with an homage to the artisans from a post-earthquake Haiti. From Haiti to the Hamptons, herein the twain did meet, with ensembles that were all at once soft, sexy, and rugged. It’s no wonder why front-row starlets like Rose McGowan and Molly Sims turn to Donna Karan for her collection’s signature ease and confidence.

“I’m constantly inspired by my passions, artistically and personally, after a year of traveling to Haiti, my two worlds come together; translating the vibrancy of tribal elements into sophisticated, sexy urban clothes. Everything is a work of art, a stroke of the body—to illuminate the creative power of a woman.”

Casual Luxe is a range for “the woman who lives in motion.” The graphic palette of rattan, teak, eucalyptus, militaire, black, bone, African violet (LOVED THIS COLOR!!), fern, clay, and terracotta was organically rich, warm, and dramatic. The neckline here was prominent, often asymmetrical, with playfully fuller skirts and body-conscious form-fitting dresses dominating the collection. “The more global the world, the more individual the woman,”—that not only underscores the inspiration for this collection, but a mantra that the Donna Karan brand proudly and brilliantly exalts each season!

My favorite looks from the Donna Karan Spring 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection included: the black/tusk appliqué and wood embroidered paper linen dress; the African violet silk/nylon organza shirt with earth/black appliqué and wood embroidered paper linen swirl skirt; the black stretch linen canvas elastic and stretch viscose double knit jersey halter jacket and tan/black paper linen and cotton poplin pinwheel skirt; the copper/black appliqué and wood embroidered evening dress; and the black/earth/bone stretch silk/viscose organza evening gown.

In keeping with the palette, prints, and silhouette, make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury for M.A.C. Cosmetics created a strong, thick brow with a dark chocolate lip. Hair stylist Eugene Souleiman gave the models a sculptural, yet sporty ponytail. While this collection was predominantly graphic; the splices of color blocking were nowhere near as vibrantly startling as the bolder hues we’ve seen recently on the runway. The silhouette of flowing skirts and bodice tops were a feminine backdrop to deeper earthtones. Haiti’s son Wyclef Jean, whom Donna Karan hugged on front row when she took her final walk, seemed to look on with pride.


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