Donna Karan X Urban Zen Holiday Market
Donna Karan (@donnakaranthewoman) and Shannon Hoey of New York Vintage (@newyorkvintageinc) are two female fashion forces showcasing what it means to be sustainable and unique in a time when taking care of our planet is more important than ever — and when finding something that’s truly one-of-a-kind is seemingly impossible thanks to a fast-fashion marketplace.
Donna and Shannon joined forces on a recent night in Greenwich Village to kick-off Urban Zen Center‘s (@urbanzen) annual Holiday Marketplace, where Donna Karan has curated products from a group of artisans including Carolyn Roumeguere, Celine Cannon, Eli Halili, Ilana Goor, Marie Alexandrine Rasoanantenaina & Peter Speliopoulos, to highlight the preservation of cultures throughout the globe.
Also on display is a selection of photos by Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith of African Twilight: Vanishing Rituals & Ceremonies, as well as jewelry — which they’ve accumulated during their extensive travels throughout Africa over the last fifteen years — available for purchase.
Urban Zen will be dedicating special evenings to charities they’ve supported over the years. Each night 10% of purchases will be donated to various organizations in Haiti as well as to the David Lynch Foundation, Everytown, God’s Love We Deliver, and Solving Kids’ Cancer.
The collaboration is between Donna and more than 30 international artisans
Interview with Donna Karan
Q: What is the idea behind what you’ve brought together here at Urban Zen?
Everybody talks about sustainability and yes, it’s one of the most important discussions right now. But also what’s most important is how we bring people together. How we are not about the “me” but the “we,” and the collaboration of different countries from all over the world.
So what you’re seeing here at Urban Zen is how to find the calm in the chaos of the world we live in today. I look at it as the past, the present, and the future. The past is preservation of culture; the present is healthcare; and the future is education.
The past is preservation of culture; the present is healthcare; and the future is education.
So, how do we put this world together in a better state?
That’s by how we create, collaborate, communicate, and change through clothing, through creativity, and through the camera.
Q: How have your travels around the world influenced and inspired your work?
Well you’re in a tent right now, so you’ve come out to Africa.
This is all my furniture, and I design furniture all over the world. I work with artisans all over the world. I do a lot of work in Haiti, and I was in Ethiopia being painted. So I could take you around to every single thing and show you from what country it came from, the source of inspiration, and how it brings the world together.
Shannon [Hoey] takes the past, brings it into the present, and who doesn’t want fantasy? What is fashion about? Fashion. Fantasy. Inspiration.
What is fashion about? Fashion. Fantasy. Inspiration.
Q: What made you choose this space to showcase your work?
This was my husband’s studio. His name was Stephan [Weiss], and he was an artist and a sculptor.
Unfortunately, he’s no longer with us today, but the big apple on the river, that’s his. He did all of my fragrances and my fragrance bottles.
This was his studio, and right before he passed away I had this vision of creating a space in a place where people could come together who want to connect and create change in the world.
This was my husband Stephan [Weiss]’ studio
Q: Many artisans in countries around the world work at a very low wage and their work is sold at a very high premium in the United States. How does your exhibition at Urban Zen help them in terms of fair wage and fair trade?
What we do is work with the artisans to give them a job.
All of the jewelry was made in Africa or South Africa, and the beauty is how weightless the pieces are. I’ve been going to Haiti for nine years now, and I deal with the preservation of culture, healthcare, and education. All of the pots here were made in Haiti. They are all one of a kind.
I’ve been going to Haiti for nine years now
You can’t go out and duplicate these in mass. So I think what you’re looking at here is the individuality of not mass-prescribing or producing. I bring students from Parsons School of Design down to Haiti to bring the two worlds together, and it’s all a part of what I do.
I bring students from Parsons School of Design down to Haiti
I work with young artisans of today in schools and take them to the artisans in Haiti or South America or Colombia, where I’m currently working on a very big project. Haiti has just had a very big disaster and it’s not about giving up. It’s about helping these people. It’s about taking their artistry, respecting them, and taking them to the next level.
I’ve been working in Haiti for that exact reason — to figure out a foundation of how to do this. It’s not as easy as it seems.
It’s complicated to make it both economically viable and something that will last.
Q: How do the pieces being featured at this year’s Holiday Marketplace re-define sustainable fashion?
I think what we are able to do, which most people can’t, is that we don’t go on markdown. We are not “you’re in one season, you’re out another.”
You’re here forever, and I think that shows our commitment. “Fashion” is often seasonal and I don’t believe in that. It’s season-less. It’s timeless. I’m not going to say, “Okay that was this season. Next.”
It’s season-less. It’s timeless.
So I think what you’re looking at here at this place is something that lasts forever.