The local products I’ve collected over the course of my travels are always the things I end up treasuring most, so my Holiday gifting tip is to pick up us much as you can when abroad. But if you aren’t so fortunate as to have a trip to, say, Haiti, Colombia, Morocco, or Kenya planned before December 24th, Donna Karan has you covered right here in New York.
For the last four years during the Holidays, Ms. Karan has transformed her late husband Stephen Weiss’ studio into a grand bazaar of sorts, immaculately (and passionately) curated by Donna herself with products made by local artisans.
Ms. Karan feels most at home when traveling the world and takes endless inspiration from the cultures she encounters. Building upon her philanthropic work in Haiti and her quest for a 360 approach to conscious consumerism, Donna started the Urban Zen Foundation. The Holiday marketplace is another extension of her work to support and preserve local cultures.
She invited Departures in to walk through the marketplace with her and her enthusiasm for the artisans was contagious.
She was excited about her first bamboo armchairs, made in Bali with Inuku, and about an enormous woven hammock from Colombia (it’s incredible and there is only one).
While showing us what looked like glass beads in varying shade of blue made by Caribbean Craft in Haiti, she said, “I was working with them and I told them they should do a color story. The beads are all made of recycled cereal boxes.”
The current photography exhibit, African Twilight, features prints available for purchase by the renowned travel photographers, Carole Beckwith and Angela Fisher.
The look overall—luxe, worldly, bohemian—is authentically Donna Karan, and she effortlessly tried on clothes as she went through the racks, a few times asking the saleswomen if they had another one for her. Her designs for Urban Zen are sprinkled throughout and, in a tented room outfitted as a luxury glamping site, she pointed out her “seven easy pieces” for Safari, a world travelers’ update on what made her famous in the 80s. Sandals designed as a collaboration with Kenneth Cole are the perfect travel shoe: fashion forward in a lace-up gladiator style but with a rubber, bendable sole.
One of the best offerings are racks of vintage curated with Donna by New York Vintage. But if you want the Basquiat looking quilted velvet cocoon coat, though, Donna already told us you can’t have it. She’s keeping that one.