dkny fall/winter 16 rethinks logomania
Design duo Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne updated Donna Karan’s codes of casual cool, starting with her iconic acronym.
Born and bred New Yorkers, Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne remember the dawn of DKNY, the diffusion line Donna Karan launched in 1989 to the delight of young working women. Just as Karan injected ease into a buttoned-up 9 to 5 wardrobe, the design duo deconstructed pinstripes and tailored suit elements last season for their inaugural turn at the brand's helm. Today's show updated another aspect of the line's legacy: logos.
"We came in [as creative directors] in the middle of the season, so we had limited time to think -- we just had to jump into it," Chow said backstage. "This season, we wanted to keep things fun and loose. It was about our youth -- about being introduced to DKNY in the early 90s. We're riffing on all the things going on back then and making them new again."
It was delightful to see the designers mix their memories with modern cool. They wove shoelaces inspired by "the combat boots we used to wear as kids," as Osborne explained, through satin bombers, slip dresses, and pullover anoraks. They dropped overall bibs to models' midriffs. One shiny nylon puffer scarf looked a little like a chic cousin of Missy Elliott's iconic "The Rain" ensemble. "We just had fun taking things back to our roots and incorporating them in new styles," said Osborne.
What got the most grins? Graphics. "DKNY started out as the logo brand and 25 years later, people are still doing logos," said Chow. "We jumped back into that, but flipped it on its head." Rather than pursuing loud ideas of 90s logomania, the pair played with text in a very 2016 way. "DKNY-LOGO-NEW.png" appeared on satin tops and t-shirts, often accompanied by a rectangle with an X through it -- an allusion to unfinished Adobe In-Design layouts. "Insert Logo Here" popped up on boxy denim pullovers.
Karan's loosened-up take on power dressing still very much guides the brand, but the woman herself has left the logo. "When we were first introduced to the brand, we didn't know it stood for 'Donna Karan New York'; we called it 'DIKNEE.'" Different phonetic pronunciations were printed on cropped tees and jean pockets. For the finale, girls changed into sweatshirts with new thoughts on the acronym: "Don't Knock New York," "Designers Know Nothing Yet," etc. "It was just us reclaiming the logo, asking what it could mean to you, what it could mean to someone else," said Chow.
Text Emily Manning
Photography Jason Lloyd-Evans