Donna Karan (American, b. 1948). Jumpsuit, spring/summer 1986. Black cotton jersey. Gift of Peter R. Feuchtwanger, 2000 (2000.369.3).
When Donna Karan established her own design house in 1985, she continued an emphasis on sportswear dressing that had characterized the traditions of Anne Klein, the design house where she had established her career. Her first innovation, the “Essentials” line, was a set of seven wardrobe components based on a bodysuit that could be layered and coordinated in various ways. At a time when women in the professional workforce were seeking an alternative to designs based on tailored menswear, Karan’s luxurious yet pragmatic solution struck a chord. Her designs in black and charcoal gray suggested the sophisticated urbanity of the professional woman, while the body-conscious base components conveyed an alluring femininity. The jumpsuit, originally designed as functional, protective apparel, is at once a statement of a no-nonsense prioritization of efficiency as well as an acknowledgment, in its sleek, attenuating line, of the universal interest in projecting a dynamic and flattering figure.
It has the sophistication of a dress and the simplicity of pants all wrapped into one. To me, it’s a look that delivers strength, comfort, and confidence.