In a talk this weekend at the Fashion Institute of Technology, designer Donna Karan credited yoga with everything from inspiring the launch of her fashion empire to helping her cope with the death of her husband and several close friends.
“I’ve always been a yogi, always on a path,” said Karan, 64, who still does yoga every morning. “I chose a spiritual path because without that, life makes no sense.”
Karan, who has been practicing yoga since she was 18, told the crowd that she initially created her signature sporty, stretchy pieces with an eye toward outfits that women could “sleep in, do yoga in and go out in.”
She also credited yoga with helping her cope with the deaths of many loved ones over the years, including mentor Anne Klein (who died of breast cancer in 1974), friend Perry Ellis (who died of AIDs in 1996) and her husband, Stephan Weiss, who died of lung cancer in 2001.
After Weiss’ death, Karan launched the Urban Zen Foundation in Manhattan, which promotes yoga, nutrition and other “alternative therapies” and advocates for integrating these things into the Western healthcare system.
“People think yoga is about being able to put your leg behind your head,” said Karan, “but the highest form of yoga is sitting still and just breathing.”
I like this lady. Until now, the sum total of my opinions on Karan or her work were “I think I had a pair of DKNY jeans in high school that I bought on sale at Lazarus and really liked.” I’m going to have to give her and the Urban Zen Foundation a closer look…