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Bras, braids and sky-high hats at Donna Karan

September 9, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) — Ask Donna Karan about the inspiration for her fashions, and it all ends up coming down to New York. Even when it starts with something else.

And so, asked what had inspired the spring 2015 collection she displayed Monday in a Chelsea gallery space, Karan began by evoking far-flung locales. “I’ve done India, I’ve done Africa, I’ve done Bali, I’ve done Haiti,” she said in a post-show interview. “I’ve done all my countries that I love, and I said, the art in New York is just as wonderful, so why not celebrate the art of New York, and the whole graffiti mode and all of that?”

Karan’s designs conveyed her well-known ethos of urban chic, infused with a healthy dose of whimsy. Much of that whimsy came in the bold colors, the lively prints, and the truly unusual — OK, downright bizarre, but fun — hats by milliner Stephen Jones (an hour later, designer Thom Browne featured even more outlandish Jones creations). Perfect for a tropical vacation — or a searing day in Manhattan — these hats were huge: A few looked like their owners might be starting a career in beekeeping. Others seemed to belong to the human companion of Curious George. The models wore long braids down their backs.

A key focus was the bra, which Karan sees as “the new bodysuit.” The opening ensemble featured a black silk and nylon stretch organza bra, paired with an ivory and black pleated poplin skirt. A nice ensemble matched a black stretch organza bomber jacket with a stretch organza bra underneath, along with an embroidered linen canvas skirt.

But probably the best look was carried off by supermodel Karlie Kloss, who closed the show with a slow, sultry walk in one of those black stretch organza bras, paired with a long, luxurious, multicolored “street art” embroidered evening skirt. And she topped it off with a tall, and we do mean tall, Mad Hatter-esque hat.

Also walking the runway: young model-of-the-moment Kendall Jenner, half-sister of Kim Kardashian.

“I had no idea who she was,” Karan confessed after the show. “I mean, I knew who she was, but I didn’t know who she WAS, let’s put it that way. She was really great. I think all the girls are great.”

One Karan fan in the front row was Broadway actress Bernadette Peters.

“The thing about Donna’s clothes is they’re on the runway, and a lot of clothes look good on the runway, but then you put them on and they’re so wearable and they make you feel really great,” Peters said. “They’re always a little sexy, you know?”

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