Donna Karan’s collection, titled the “Artisan Stroke,” was inspired by her travels to Haiti. “My two worlds come together,” she wrote in program notes, “translating the vibrancy of tribal elements into sophisticated, sexy urban clothes.”
On a runway where models’ sleek ponytails moved to the beat of tribal drums, Karan’s distinctive point of view stayed on course. Lean, contoured or tented silhouettes turned out in colors such as earth, teak, bone, fern and African violet and often were embellished with unusual materials, such as brass and wood. The bold, earthy prints, inspired by the Haitian artist Philippe Dodard, were startling and stunning. And chunky necklaces, made up of shards of wood and Lucite mixed with beads, added to the primitive, exotic feel.
There were stiff spiral skirts, signature twisted and shirred jersey dresses – these a second skin – and paper-like cotton tops, as well as a fitted leather “fencing” jacket. Evening was a sultry affair with an organic aura – the standout piece, a copper-and-black gown with sequin and wood appliqués that will get hearts pounding as loud as the drumbeats.