Yesterday, the New York Times reported that fashion icon Donna Karan was stepping down from her position as chief designer of her namesake company, Donna Karan International. While you might be aware of some of her achievements in the field of design, like her transformative bodysuit and her accessible DKNY brand, you may not have known about Ms. Karan’s ties to her Jewish heritage. In honor of her “Seven Easy Pieces” collection, here are seven “Jew-y” things to know about the legendary Donna Karan:
1. Her roots lead back to The Tribe: Born Donna Ivy Faske in Forest Hills, Queens, Karan spent most of her childhood living in the “Jewish Greenwich,” Five Towns, Long Island.
2. She surrounds herself with yentas: Some of Karan’s closest friends include fellow Jewesses Patti Cohen, who managed Karan’s public relations for over 30 years, and Barbra Streisand, who described Ms. Karan to the New York Times as “so great at everything she does.”
3. While mixing business and pleasure, she kept things kosher: Karan’s Jewish husband Stephan Weiss, who died in 2001, helped launch the Donna Karan International brand and continued to work for the company as a business partner.
4. She raised a nice Jewish girl: Karan’s daughter Gabby is so close to her mother that they have had Manhattan apartments right around the corner from each other!
5. Her big break came from a fellow Hebrew: Karan began her career at age 18 as an intern at Anne Klein, where she was eventually promoted to the position of head designer following Klein’s death.
6. She studies Kabbalah: In 2007, she took her first trip to Israel with her Jewish mysticism teacher.
7. She believes in the value of tikun olam (repairing the world): Her latest endeavor, the Urban Zen Initiative, helps to raise awareness about healthcare.