Fall Fashion 2011: Donna Karan | Michael Kors

Michael Kors and Donna Karan are two of my favorite American designers and not just because he’s on Project Runway and she’s a huge Zen yogini. It’s because they both make clothes that work and move with a woman’s body- something other designers sometimes sacrifice for the ‘art’ of a piece.

This season they stayed true to their aesthetic by featuring neutrals while everyone else piled on the Crayola train. Karan featured a soft gray and a luscious blush-beige (the blush trend personified). Kors used white and black, charcoal gray, and a marvelous tabac that has nothing to do with camel and everything to do with chic.

A number of designers went with retro this season, producing lines with a distinct 40s vibe. While at first glance, with her gloves and pencil skirts, Karan felt a little Mad Men, it was not the case. This fall line was not tied to a specific period but to a feeling, that of quiet elegance. A return to ladylike if you will. Portrait and draped necklines, longer skirts, and pearls and tights for accessories. I loved the look. 

Her fabrics were a sumptuous blend of soft, flowy, sensual and more structured, textured wools. Draped silk blouses mixed with high waisted pencil skirts. Tailored belted jackets atop silky form fitting skirts. It all worked for me, especially the return to a more natural waist. Honestly, I am so over low-rider/hip hugger/low-rise bottoms I could scream.

I'll take both, size 8, please! Oh and a hook and eye for the blouse. Thanks.

The only miss for me were the pants. She only did one pair and they were draped in what was either very lightweight wool or a jersey. Either way the look did not work with the tailored elegance of the rest of the line. Other than that this line was one of my favorites. I loved the colors, the fabrics, and the shapes.

Michael Kors also knows a woman’s body and what works and what doesn’t but his line was much more overt than Karan’s- a strong sexy vibe with nothing subdued about it. While open to the navel blouses are not in my portfolio anymore this is runway and by the time they hit the stores I’m sure there will be impeccable buttoned versions. For now it’s about the ‘look’ and his cuts are so perfect that even a skirt slit to the thigh opens suggestively as opposed to Paris Hilton-esquely. Classy not trashy.

While Karan focused on skirts Kors put out gorgeously tailored pants in an array of wear now neutrals. The charcoal gray flannel with the matching coat would be a staple in my work wardrobe. For fun he did a thick cable turtleneck dress in a woodsy brown that would be the go-to piece in any wardrobe as it could dress up or down, alone or over leggings or jeans. Additionally, he made quite a showing with fur which if you’re waiting for my moral outrage, you don’t know me. Feel free to flame but I love fur and his was sublime. Roll around in them naked sublime. Enough said.

The only look Kors focused on that did not work for me was a scoop neck in a number of his tops. You’ve got to have just the right collarbones and bust to pull this look off and not many women do. It was cut a skosh too low and those of us lacking in the bust department will look bony and those who are well endowed are going to have wardrobe malfunctions.

Still, many looks from both designers that I would be happy to own (call me, you two!). While I may enjoy individual pieces from other designers Karan and Kors continue to put out cohesive collections that have both runway appeal but will translate to retail sales.

The fun continues next as I look at two more designers with a slightly more international perspective- Carolina Herrera and Max Mara. If you'd like to look at some really luxe looks check out the Tweed Librarian's post on Elie Saab.

All images from Elle and Style.


  1. I love Donna Karan. And someday I'll love wearing her. This was a very entertaining post.

  2. The Michael Kors pants are so elegant. I love the tobacco color, too, and think it'd look great with his grey and charcoal pieces.

    I owned a Donna Karan black cashmere bodysuit years ago that I got on sale. My ex washed it and put it in the dryer....sigh. Her clothes are so perfect.

  3. I've been scouring magazines and websites for fall fashions for the last few days and I have to say you have picked out some of the loveliest -- and most wearable -- collections. I'd like to wave a magic wand and have everything here and from Carolina Herrera above, put straight into my closet!

    p.s. Have you seen Drew Barrymore wearing DKNY in the recent Vanity Fair? Really fabulous, fresh styling that makes the ladies who lunch look quite modern.

  4. @Style Maniac- that means a lot coming from you, thank you so much! I'll have to check out the Vanity Fair. Drew Barrymore has grown up so well hasn't she?


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