With all due respect to French theologian Alain de Lille, who coined the original phrase in Latin in days of yore, Donna Karan might take issue with his statement that all roads lead to Rome. Talk to Donna, and she’d be of the mind that life’s highways and byways bring you back to one place and one place only, and that would be New York City. For next spring, then, she sent out a 44-look paean to the place that has been her home, love, and all around reference point her entire career. It was a fifties-tinged walk on the wild side, with bra tops, billowing skirts grazing the legs a few inches below the knee, high-waisted crop pants, and abbreviated décolleté-framing jackets—all accessorized with hourglass-heeled mules and waist-defining vinyl and leather belts. Womanly is how Donna would undoubtedly describe it, and she’d be right; this was an unabashed celebration of curvaceousness, and unlike some others who try to impart the same message, many of her models were as healthy and glowing as the look they were meant to evoke. Brava for that, Donna.
Except, of course, Donna Karan has, for a long time now, been as much about consciousness-raising as she has been hemline-raising. (Or, this season at least, hemline-lowering: Like many others these past few days in New York, she’s embracing longer lengths.) So, just as you’ll see in about any old street in NYC, there were fragments and echoes of other locales from around the world, locales that in this case have inspired some of her more recent collections—India, Haiti, Africa. Donna’s tour of the city took in its graffitied streets (the scrawls and swirls over the full-skirted dresses and cinched duster coats were akin to the daubed canvases of eighties artist Jean-Michel Basquiat) while the cacophonous sound of its sidewalks were represented by the vividly collaged prints, which clashed together lace, bar codes, and sketches of faces glimpsed as quickly as the people who hurriedly pass you by during Manhattan’s rush hour.