Donna Karan believes in art, artisans and ethnic African elegance. But the collection she sent out for summer 2015 was too heavy with dark decoration and graffiti prints – not to mention weird high-rise Amish hats.
The designer was a pioneer of ethnicity from Africa and absorbed it into American sportswear. She also focused on women’s bodies with her original easy pieces back in the Eighties.
Those core values are still present, with bold bra tops in an African spirit, bringing a strong, womanly vibe to summer dresses.
But there was something awkward and constricting about the belted waists and leather bangles. The graffiti scribble prints looked as heavy as the black and red art works shifting digitally on a back drop.
There were some ethnic outfits that worked, especially artisanal tweedy suits with a fringed edge – more Coco Chanel than Ivory Coast.
But I could not help focusing on a couple of draped dresses moving effortlessly across the body, or others in a plain material that brought an ease to the body with drapes and slits.
Donna Karan just seems to try too hard to take influences out of Africa, while her home city – New York – would surely offer more easy answers and easy pieces.