With her Fall 2014 collection, Donna Karan celebrated the 30th anniversary of her label. To mark this milestone, here’s a look at the earliest Donna Karan sewing patterns.
Donna Karan (b. 1948) was born Donna Faske in Queens, New York to parents in the fashion industry. She attended Parsons School of Design before beginning her career at Anne Klein. In 1984, after over fifteen years at Anne Klein, Karan left to launch her own label. Her first collection, Seven Easy Pieces, explored the concept of layering mix-and-match pieces over a ‘body’ (a snap-crotch bodysuit) and laid the foundation for her brand. (See a New York Times timeline here.)
Vogue Patterns’ licensing began two years after Seven Easy Pieces. Karan was introduced to readers in the September/October 1987 (or Autumn 1987) issue of Vogue Patterns magazine:
In an editorial photographed by Benoit Malphettes, Suzanne Lanza models the four new patterns for a Donna Karan wardrobe. The designs were from the current, Fall/Winter 1987-88 collection (see Bernadine Morris, “Beene and Karan Redefine Today’s Luxury” or watch a runway video on YouTube):
(Scans via Top Models of the World.)
Vogue 1958 is a bias coat and draped, long-sleeved dress:
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Coat & Dress. Very loose-fitting, unlined, A-Line, bias coat, above mid-knee, has front extending into standing back neckline and long sleeves. No Provision for Above-Waist Adjustment. Tapered dress, above mid-knee, has draped neckline extending into collar and long sleeves, shoulder pads, front pleated and gathered waist, side front pockets, front zipper (skirt), underarm gusset and elasticized back waist (no seam).
A black, wool knit version of the Vogue 1958 dress is in the collection of the Museum at FIT, where it was featured in the 2008 exhibition Arbiters of Style: Women at the Forefront of Fashion:
Vogue 1960 is a double-breasted jacket with elasticized back detail. The design was also featured on the fall magazine cover shown above:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Jacket. Loose-fitting, lined, below hip, double-breasted jacket has notched collar, shoulder pads, welt and buttonhole pockets, side back seams, elasticized, side back-button tab and long, two-piece sleeves with button vent. Purchased top.
Vogue 1961 may look like a set of tops, but it’s really two tops—one bias, the other for stretch knits—and a bodysuit. (It’s the latter that’s paired with the jacket on the magazine cover.)
Here’s the envelope description: Misses’ Top and Bodysuit. Loose fitting top has long sleeves. A: wrap, bias, draped front extends to tucked back collar, attached to tie ends. B: mock front wrap, shoulder pads, tucked front extends into single layer tie ends (wrong side may show) and back zipper. Bodysuit has notched collar, dropped shoulders, shoulder pads, mock front band, yoke with forward shoulder seams, very loose fitting blouson bodice, back pleat, elastic (seamed) waist, and lower edge, snap crotch closing and long sleeves with placket, pleats and button cuffs. Purchased trim.
Vogue 1962 provides the bottoms shown on Vogue 1961: a high-waisted skirt and softly pleated skirt or pants:
The envelope description reads: Misses’ Skirt, Pants & Stole. Straight or tapered skirt (no side seams), above mid-knee or tapered pants have back zipper. No provision for shortening or lengthening for skirt B. A: bias front, no waistband, and side back seams. B: lined. Skirt B, Pants: front pleats, partially elasticized waistband and pockets. Single layer stole has narrow hem. Purchased top.
Just for fun, here’s a Patrick Demarchelier editorial photo of Paulina Porizkova in an ensemble from the Fall 1987 collection:
11 thoughts on “Donna Karan: Vogue Patterns”
I had Vogue 1961 in the late 80s and made the cross-over top (view A), but no longer have the pattern. What a shame! I want to make both 1961 and the skirts in 1962 upon looking at them again.
Those all look very wearable today except the 1960 jacket – how 80s is that!
I am sure DK made wearing jersey chic. Instead of just for T-shirts she did amazing things with the fabric. One of my favourites. Thanks
I have 1960 jacket. I bought it when it was first released and never made it.
catherinedaze you answered my question. I wondered if it was still wearable today minus the oversized shoulderpads.
Wow dejas vu! I think I have either 1961 or 1962 in my sewing phase 1 collection. I must go and check. Impressive how well these designs have travelled, bar the jacket. I’ve always been a fan of DK, thanks for posting.
Stephanie! I also made view A bias cut top in late 80s and am in the middle of cutting it out again for my sis’ wedding (next wk!) -30yrs. Later….I just discovered I am missing the paper layout/instruction insert! I seriously want to cry… you don’t happen to remember if it was more than two pattern pieces do you ? there is one large front view with sleeve attached (raglan) and then just the back piece —and for the life of me I cannot match it up with notches or any of the markings …it really seems I’m missing a piece. Normally I don’t need the instruction sheet as I am a pretty experienced sewer but this bias cut has me stumped!
Shoot, I just realized u posted to this amazing site years ago!
If ANYone knows how to find replacement instructions for older patterns I would appreciate any advice.
Tried contacting vogue -you would think they would have an extensive library (or at least McCall’s would who bought them) and I don’t have enough time to order a whole new pattern on Etsy or eBay….I would be happy to pay anyone to screenshot their instructions if they have DK #1961 ! Desperate. Lol.
Thank you Sarah for the most incredible site, I will be back in future…am so sorry I discovered you So late…are the pattern examples in articles owned by the author? Or I guess pictures are used as examples from other sources….? Thanks again.
It looks like the Commercial Pattern Archive has a copy of Vogue 1961 by Donna Karan, and it’s 4 pieces for View A (+ gusset + tie end): link
The archive is now free-access with registration. Good luck!
I loved those patterns when they came out. Except for the jacket, which I thought did not blend well with the other pieces. I had the coat and dress set. The coat really was a lovely piece.