The Effort to Save Anne Klein

The Washington Post explores how new creative director, Sharon Lombardo, is doing on her path to restoring Anne Klein to its glory from the 70's.

First look: Marchesa debuts a line of jewellery

First look: Marchesa debuts a line of jewellery

Marchesa is creating a little bling for its dresses.

The brand has signed a licensing agreement with NWH Jewelry Group to launch fashion jewelry for holiday. Designed to complement the Marchesa Couture and Marchesa Notte collections, it will be available online and at upscale department stores nationwide.

“This season, the [ready-to-wear] collection has a 1920s influence, harkening back to the decadence and carefree attitude of the time,” said Georgina Chapman, who designs Marchesa with Keren Craig.

NWH translated Marchesa’s detailed textiles into jewelry pieces. Craig said, “3-D chiffon poppies are remade in bold enamel, and fringe tassels are highlighted on statement necklaces and earrings.”

Materials used in the jewelry designs include pearls, crystals, cubic zirconias and semiprecious accents, with prices ranging up to $595.

“Marchesa is an incredibly well-respected and relevant brand in the fashion space, so it is an exciting opportunity to partner with them and extend that vision into the jewelry category,” said Fran Lukas, group president of NWH Jewelry Group.

 

Finding Her Fit In Fashion

A young Donna is hired by Anne Klein—and winds up in the top job.

The first thing I learned when I took the job as chief assistant to Anne Klein in 1971 was that she was the boss. Yes, she had her investors, and her husband and business manager, Chip. But Anne was as much an entrepreneur as she was a designer. She controlled every aspect of her company—which clothes were sold and where, how they were presented—and everyone reported to her. I admired her strength and appreciated how much she sweated the details. Nothing was too small for her to have an opinion about, from the positioning of darts and buttons on a blouse to the coffee mugs we used in the showroom. She didn’t miss a trick.

Anne liked to design at night. Often, it would be just her, me, and a model. She’d go into a zone and fit for hours and hours, a practice I picked up from watching her. I’d pass her pins, and she would work painstakingly on the model. Because of Anne I, too, became a stickler for fit. To me, fitting is sculpture, a three-dimensional creation on a body.

Where Anne was all about silhouette, I was passionate for fabric—and she let me shop in Europe. When it came to inspiration, she’d say, “God gave you two eyes; use them!” In many ways she was like her predecessor Claire McCardell, another great American fashion icon. Neither could separate being a woman from the clothes they designed. Clothes can and should be beautiful, but they only work if you want to wear them in your everyday life.

“Donna, I plan to travel for a while,” Anne said one day in the late spring of 1972. “I need you to do holiday on your own.” With Anne away, I felt free, and my mind raced with design ideas. My collection was couture in feeling, with every piece artisanal and special. I used my favorite colors—black, white, red, and vicuña—and incorporated lots of embroidery and leather. That collection foreshadowed my future. The truth was Anne hadn’t been traveling that summer; she had breast cancer.

Right around this time, my husband Mark and I learned that I was pregnant. I couldn’t have been happier. I was going to be a mother—the thing I wanted more than anything. I fully intended to be a stay-at-home mom. Because Anne wasn’t well, I worked even longer hours than usual, heading home at midnight or later. I wanted to prepare as much as possible for my maternity leave.

While I was in labor on Long Island, Anne was at Mount Sinai in Manhattan with pneumonia—and no one was at work. Our pre-fall collection was due that very week. We spoke on the phone hospital to hospital, discussed how many buttons should be on a double-breasted navy cashmere coat.

Gabby, all of ten pounds, had no sooner popped out than our investor Gunther Oppenheim called my hospital room in that deep German voice of his: “Donna, we need you to come back to work.”

“Would you like to know if I had a boy or a girl?” I asked. “It’s a girl.”

I checked with my doctor, who forbade me to go back to work so soon.

When I told Gunther, he said, “OK, we come to you,” and less than a week later the whole staff arrived at the new house Mark and I had moved to in Lawrence, Long Island. I had the bagels and lox all spread out. I assumed they were coming to coo over Gabby and maybe bring flowers and a casserole. Then I saw the trucks arrive, the racks of clothes being wheeled up my driveway. This was business.

We cleared out my dining room so we could use it as a design studio. Betty Hanson, our head of sales, walked in and immediately answered the phone in the kitchen.

“Um, OK. Yes,” I heard her say. Her face fell. She hung up and looked all around, clearly unsure of what to say. She came closer. “Anne died.”

The shock hit me, and I started shaking and couldn’t stop. Anne died? How could that be? She was only 51. She was going to be fine. At least I thought she was. Betty knelt by my side.

“Donna, listen,” she said in a soothing voice. “This is terrible, but you need to finish the collection. The stores are waiting. Anne would have wanted you to.”

Then it dawned on me. Everyone knew. They knew all along that Anne was dying. And no one told me. I never got to say goodbye to her. She was my teacher, my mentor, my everything. I was 25 years old, had just given birth, and Anne was dead.

A whirlwind. A 24/7 storm of madness. Those are the only ways I can describe the chaotic days and weeks that followed. All my dreams of being a stay-at-home mom had gone out the window. I had to deliver the pre-fall collection, then face the big one—fall—set to show in May 1974.

I didn’t channel Anne in any way while designing that collection; I was still too numb for that. But I did call upon every lesson she taught me. I designed for flexibility, creating mix-and-match sportswear a woman could wear multiple ways. I knew I had to put my own stamp on this collection, so I made it a little hipper, a little cooler. I wanted the collection to feel young and sexy.

On the day of the show, all my usual insecurities washed over me. Who was I to take on Anne’s legacy? Would everyone laugh at me for even trying? During the presentation in our showroom, I frantically fussed over each model before I let her walk out from behind the curtain, and I held my breath until I sent out the last girl. My work was done. I felt naked, exposed, and horribly vulnerable.

Then, out of the darkness, over the music, I could hear the start of applause, and it grew and grew. The reaction was immediate and overwhelming. Someone handed me a bouquet of white roses. When I stepped out onto the runway for my bow, people stood. Blinded by the lights and the emotion, I trembled and tried not to fall over. The collection was a hit.

Donna Karan 'My Journey' Memoir Excerpts Revealed; Designer Writes About Anne Klein

In September of last year, iconic American fashion designer Donna Karanannounced plans to pen a memoir about her experience in the fashion industry over the past 40-plus years. "My Journey" is being published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House.

Karan's memoir is currently available for pre-order and features a foreword byBarbara Streisand. The 384-page book hits shelves on Oct. 13. 

Vogue recently published three sections of "My Journey" — "Finding Her Fit in Fashion," "I'll Take Manhattan" and "To Be Continued ... "

The first section focuses on Karan's time at Anne Klein & Co., which she began in 1971 as chief assistant to Anne Klein herself. When the namesake designer passed away at age 51, Karan — a young mother at the time — had to deliver the pre-fall collection and fall/winter 1974 range.

"Who was I to take on Anne's legacy? Would everyone laugh at me for even trying?" Karan wrote in her memoir. "During the presentation in our showroom, I frantically fussed over each model before I let her walk out from behind the curtain, and I held my breath until I sent out the last girl. My work was done. I felt naked, exposed, and horribly vulnerable." 

Vince Camuto

Vince Camuto

Vince Camuto discusses the evolution of menswear and his Vince Camuto Men’s collection, the family business and Father’s Day gifts with GQ publisher Chris Mitchell on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers”.

Kelly Slater - The greatest surfer of all time

Kelly Slater - The greatest surfer of all time

Kelly Slater - The greatest surfer of all time. The most dominant athlete in any sport, an icon that spans generations, Pipe Master, Triple Crown Champ, Eddie Aikau winner, the youngest World Champion, the oldest World Champion. These accomplishments are just the tip of the iceberg for Kelly Slater’s legacy in surfing and beyond.

QUICKSILVER & ROXY

QUICKSILVER & ROXY

Quicksilver & Roxy are changing lives with their foundation. We at TLKE are so proud to be their watch distributor, enabling them to do more good.

Anne Klein continues to impress

Anne Klein continues to impress

Anne Klein Watches has a lot to celebrate this year, so it seems particularly apt that they are a Gold Partner of the prestigious WatchPro Hot 100 event.

TLKE supports Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity

TLKE supports Breakthrough Breast Cancer Charity

Anne Klein passed away in 1974 from breast cancer. Since then much has been done to understand breast cancer but the fight is still far from over and this is why TLKE commit to donate a percentage of profits to the Breakthrough charity.

This year a dear friend and award-winning designer, Ruth Willmott also lost her sister-in-law Angela Willmott to breast cancer and in her memory designed her garden this year at Chelsea for Breakthrough Breast Cancer. The design was based on a double (DNA) helix shape: a stone pathway crossed by a ribbon of soft pink planting. Water pools in the garden ripple every 10 minutes to represent a woman just diagnosed with breast cancer. The sculpture (by Rick Kirby) symbolises the courage, dignity and humanity of all those fighting breast cancer.

Ruth was awarded the Best Fresh Garden (People’s Choice) and a Silver Gilt at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015 as well as raising funds for Breakthrough