Donna Karan: I sketched at retail jobDonna Karan used to “sketch in the dressing room” when she worked in a shop.

The designer discussed how she started out in the industry during a question and answer session at New York’s 92Y community centre.

Her fashion career began when she worked at a shop as a teenager.

“I worked in a clothing store, at Shurrie’s, as a salesgirl. I wanted to be an illustrator, not a designer, so I would sketch in the dressing room,” she said. “I tell anybody in the fashion industry, ‘If you want to be a designer, you must work in retail.’”

The designer eventually went on to study at the acclaimed Parsons The New School For Design in New York City. However, all did not go to plan as Donna did not make it through her degree.

“I went to Parsons, but I didn’t graduate. You know that? I had to go to summer school, because I failed draping. I showed them,” she laughed.

Designer Anne Klein eventually hired Donna, although perhaps not for the reason the aspiring fashion star would have liked. Anne thought Donna was a model, and criticised her shape.

“[She said my hips were] too big. That really pi*sed me off,” Donna admitted. “I said, ‘No, I want to be a designer’… it was an extraordinary experience… Anne taught me the best lesson in the world – that a designer is a designer even if she’s designing toothbrushes and hospital gowns.” © COVER MEDIA