Donna Karan and Urban Zen

Photo: Courtesy of Urban Zen

designer update

Zen And The Art Of Scarf Cocooning

In between trips to Haiti (she’s set to depart again this afternoon), Donna Karan showed her Spring Urban Zen collection to a small group of reporters this morning. Models in suede lace-up sandals ambled through the West Village space, perching here and there on the collection’s line of handmade Balinese furniture. There were candles. There were floor-to-ceiling windows. There was green juice. There were nutty muffins. “We design clothes, home, accessories, and life,” Karan joked to the group. But she really means it. Few designers have as firm a grasp on a particular ethos and lifestyle as Karan; as she said herself, “Where would I be without the bodysuit and yoga?”

Urban Zen is Karan’s outlet for railing against the industry’s see-now-buy-later-wear-even-later runway-to-delivery schedule. Downstairs, in the retail space, the clothes on the models were for sale. The line’s buy-now-wear-now look is a pared-down version of Karan’s main line; the convertible pieces, in linen, cotton, and jersey, have lots of drape and cling, stretch and wrap. The current collection incorporates a black-and-white Aboriginal print and woven leather jewelry with roots in Senegal and Bali. A stack of bangles is actually a long, looped chain (”like a Slinky!” Karan said). A recurring T-shirt meets scarf motif is particularly practical: Cocoon yourself when you want to be covered up, unwrap when you want to want to show off. “Accent the positive,” Karan declared. Even yogis need a little protection from the elements.
—Alison Baenen