BY Keith Recker | June 3, 2009
Donna Karan and the Urban Zen phenomenon
Donna Karan created urban Zen in 2006 just after she, in league with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, raised over a million dollars for preservation of the art, history, and culture of Tibet. Her personal desire to see continued positive change took the form of the Urban Zen Foundation, with programs to expand the Western health care paradigm to include Eastern spirituality; the enhancement of children’s well-being; and the preservation of unique cultures threatened by globalization. It’s a rich and challenging mix, but one would expect nothing less of Karan.
The foundation’s structure includes a vital base of support: A portion of the sales of the Urban Zen line of clothing and accessories, showcased at three stand-alone boutiques, go toward Urban Zen’s work. The clothing is recognizably Donna Karan. Cotton jersey, silk and cashmere are draped and coaxed into shapes at once concealing and revealing. The point of difference from other Karan involvements is that all the designs link viscerally to distant cultures and experiences. These garments are meant for the urban nomad, the spiritual seeker, the poetic iconoclast.
The leather tassel necklace shown here, $1875 at Urban Zen stores, comes from Senegal, and recalls the ritual hunting shirts of West Africa, whose surfaces are often blanketed with animal talismans. By wearing them, the hunter is meant to become more at one with the hunted – connecting the two in a cycle of mutual respect.
More information about the Urban Zen Foundation can be found at www.urbanzen.org.
Urban Zen stores are located in NYC’s Greenwich Village; Sun Valley, ID; and Sag Harbor, NY.