Cindy. Beautiful. Carolina. Amber. Shalom. Lia. Magnet. Karlie.
All of the supermodels are famous enough to simply go by their first name, and they all appear in the big, splashy ad campaign that marks the spring relaunch of Donna Karan New York with a collection inspired by the hit “7 Easy Pieces.” ” from the designer. ”
The spring campaign features Cindy Crawford, Linda Evangelista, Amber Valletta, Shalom Harlow, Carolyn Murphy, Imaan Hammam, Karlie Kloss and Liya Kebede.
The models came together for a campaign titled “In Women We Trust” (the title of Karan’s original 1992 campaign) that not only celebrates the past but looks to the future of Donna Karan’s ethos of timeless elegance, empowered women and accessible luxury. Designed for today’s women.
Photographed by Annie Leibovitz in a raw warehouse in Brooklyn, the effort represents G-III Apparel Group’s largest advertising campaign to date. It was designed by Jessica Diehl, with video by Barbara Leibovitz Hellman. The ads feature hair and makeup by Shay Ashual and Francelle Daly, respectively.
The creative director of the campaign was Trey Laird, who previously worked in-house at Donna Karan International for 11 years and ran Karan’s account at her agency Laird + Partners for nine years.
G-III, which acquired Donna Karan International Inc. in 2016 from LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton for $650 million, has gone into the archives to reinvent the Donna Karan New York brand. The in-house studio team studied thousands of archival looks and vintage details to design the collection that meets the needs of today’s consumer. Donna Karan New York was first launched in 1985 and was privately owned by the designer and her late husband, Stephan Weiss, before being sold to LVMH in 2001 for $243 million.
In the new campaign video, for example, each of the models talks about Donna Karan’s influence on fashion. “Donna represents strength and sensuality. You can be whoever you want to be,” Evangelista said.
“’In Women We Trust’ is a very powerful statement. We need more women to guide us into the future because women think differently,” Valletta said.
“She introduced a powerful new style of dressing that celebrated women and their bodies. That was her sweet spot, and it still is,” Crawford said.
The reintroduction includes Donna Karan clothing, accessories and footwear. Classic silhouettes, accentuated by artful draping, showcase sculptural pieces inspired by key accessories. There’s impeccable tailoring and body-flattering cuts, sleeveless draped dresses and collared black jumpsuits. There are modernized classics in a range of super sheer and liquid satins, with opalescent metallic finishes and gold sparkles. The collection features bold coats, ties and cut-out details. Anchored in black, white and neutrals, from zinc to fawn and chalk, the seasonal palette also includes rose quartz, tourmaline and frost blue.
Models are photographed wearing, for example, a crisp cotton shirtdress, a signature jumpsuit, a draped sleeveless dress and a lightweight jacket, paying homage to the instantly recognizable “7 Easy Pieces” as they evolve into a “system of clothing”.
Donna Karan New York’s spring collection, which will be available starting Thursday, will be sold both in the United States and around the world. Some of the US retail partners include Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillard’s, Belk and Von Maur, as well as donnakaran.com. Retail prices range from $159 to $599.
When asked why they determined now was the right time to reintroduce Donna Karan New York, Jeff Goldfarb, executive vice president of G-III, said after evaluating their internal brands: “It’s very obvious that Donna Karan is an incredible brand and “She’s ready to grow. She’s the iconic American designer and just having that asset seemed incredible to us.” She said they found there was a lot of demand for the brand in vintage stores and in the articles they read.
When asked if they plan to return to the archives each season or if they will begin developing new ideas for Donna Karan, Goldfarb said: “The archives are very rich. When we launch it, it will be easy to go back to the archives and see all of these amazing, cool pieces.” She said, “The goal is to look at those archives and build a brand that is true to the archives but at the same time creates a future that is based on the past.”
Goldfarb said he wanted to hire Laird because he understood Karan and G-III. Laird had done advertising campaigns in the past for G-III’s DKNY and Karl Lagerfeld brands, as well as working with Karan’s original company on campaigns.
The Donna Karan campaign will launch starting Thursday across all of the brand’s social channels and will highlight these eight women sharing their individual stories. The brand will further expand the campaign with a 360 approach across North America through a mix of premium digital, print and outdoor media.
Jacki Bouza, senior vice president of global marketing and communications, said the brand will use premium out-of-home units in the top 10 U.S. markets and digital takeovers at most sites.
“This is the biggest budget we’ve ever had,” Goldfarb said, declining to reveal the exact size of the spring advertising budget.
When creating the campaign, Laird said it was important to think about how to create something that tells the story of the designer’s legacy and the power of the brand, what it stands for and represents, and move it forward. “And be faithful to the iconic codes of it, but at the same time convey it in the spirit that feels appropriate today,” he said.
She said the key inspiration was Karan’s strong personal belief in women.
“She (Karan) was always a woman who designed for other women and she always understood that and incorporated it into the brand. In reality, there was no single woman who encompassed everything that the Donna Karan brand stood for. We thought it would be wonderful if we could bring together different generations of women, all of whom have had different connections to Donna Karan over the years, whether through campaigns, runway shows, events or the fashion industry in general, and come together to showcase the beauty and power of how Donna Karan, the brand, connects with so many different types of women,” Laird said.
Laird said he initially called each model and explained that the brand was relaunching and had been out of business in the apparel category. “Everyone said ‘yes’ immediately,” Laird said. “It was not an easy task to bring all these women together, it was spectacular. At the same time I thought that if we make this statement about women, I feel like Annie Leibovitz should get this.
“Annie is almost like a cultural documentary photographer. She is not just a fashion photographer and Annie always does something iconic that transcends fashion,” Laird said. “This wasn’t just a spring fashion campaign. It had to be an iconic moment that truly captured what this brand stood for emotionally and visually in every way.”
He said all the pieces were performed from Karan’s original files. Crawford and Kloss are in the original jumpsuits. Valletta and Harlow wear off-the-shoulder knit wrap tops. “There are a lot of women who really miss the Donna Karan brand and remember it, but there are also new generations who haven’t been able to buy it for a while. “We wanted to transcend different generations,” Laird said.
Laird had each woman make a specific film.
Laird said she chose the name “In Women We Trust,” which was the name of Donna Karan’s 1992 campaign that featured model Rosemary McGrotha running for president.
Laird said Leibovitz filmed a frame and also took individual shots of each woman. Evangelista is wearing a trench coat that is an updated version of a trench coat she wore on the Donna Karan runway in the ’90s. Valletta and Harlow said they have been best friends for more than 25 years and met at a Donna Karan photo shoot in its first season.
“I had Donna (Karan) on Facetime during filming, and Amber, Shalom and Linda were previewing. And, in true Donna style, she started telling me which photographs needed to be placed with the others,” Laird said.
She said they styled the shoot with original vintage Robert Lee Morris jewelry from the archives. “Karlie is wearing the original bodysuit, original belt and matte knit tights, and Carolyn is wearing the iconic white skirt and wrap skirt and gold cufflinks. In the video of her, she said that Cindy Crawford wore this on the runway in the ’90s and ‘I’m sitting here in that look.’”
Laird said the whole experience was very moving because Donna Karan was one of the first shows or campaigns many of these models worked on. “I think Amber said it best. She said, ‘I can be part of the legacy, but I can also be part of the future.’”
When asked if they could use all archival photographs from fashion shows and advertising campaigns in current marketing, Laird said they made all the necessary clearances. For example, she said, the Peter Lindbergh Foundation gave them full clearance for “all of Peter (Lindbergh’s) iconic Donna campaigns.”
In light of the fact that one of the biggest trends on TikTok is the ’90s runway, Laird said, “We have these incredible moments from Linda’s greatest hits that will be in our TikTok strategy.”
In her video, Crawford talked about how Karan launched herself more than 30 years ago, which was Crawford’s heyday in the modeling world. At that time, especially in New York, most designers were men. “Donna Karan burst onto the scene and made a huge impact. She introduced a new style of power dressing for women that celebrated women and their bodies. It was like putting on armor. She made you feel empowered. You felt tough,” Crawford said. She pointed out looks like the cold shoulder, statement jewelry and belt. She would look as good today as she did 30 years ago. It’s no wonder people are trying to find vintage pieces these days,” Crawford said.
“I thought it was so beautiful that these women were telling the story of this brand and how meaningful it is,” Laird said. “It’s not something you can include in the writing, it’s also part of your stories.”