Designers against Trump: Donna Karan says the president’s America-first mentality isn’t the way to go

Karan, founder of Urban Zen and longtime friend of the Clintons, on why she hasn’t gotten over the election

By Tatiana Baez
April 15, 2017 5:15AM (UTC)
main article image
President Donald Trump speaks while meeting with Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, Thursday, March 30, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) (AP)

Donna Karan hasn’t gotten over President Donald Trump’s victory. In fact, she doesn’t think “anyone has gotten over” the election.

Karan, a designer, author and founder of Urban Zen, spoke to WWD while traveling to Neapolitan Collection, a boutique in a Chicago suburb. She stressed to the magazine that for her, it’s not just about clothes.


“If I go to a store, I want to talk about your community. Yeah I could dress you, yeah my clothes are there. [But] every time I’ve walked into a dressing room, I guarantee you the conversation goes to my mother, my husband, my daughter, dah, dah, dah. It’s not what I can do for them; it’s what they can do for them. It’s each one of us, our responsibility.”

Karan deals with that responsibility in part through Urban Zen, a New York-based nonprofit she founded with designer Sonja Nuttall in 2007. The foundation promotes well-being, empowers children and preserves culture through launching initiatives worldwide.

“It’s about addressing the issues in health care, education and culture," she said. "Everybody is expecting one person to do it; really it’s about each and every one of us. That’s truly what Urban Zen is about.”

Karan has done a lot to make the world a better place, but she knows she needs help. The designer, who depicted the first female president in her 1992 “In Women We Trust” ads, has been a longtime supporter of both Bill and Hillary Clinton. She was also involved with the Clinton Foundation’s Global Initiative program for 10 years.


“We’re living in a world problem and we need world leaders,” she told WWD. “Nobody is perfect, we all have our things, but I don’t know anybody who has brought the power of people together as Bill Clinton did.” She continued:

“It it wasn’t for President Clinton, I would not be the person I am. I’ll never forget when I was in the White House for the first time, I said to Hillary, ‘We’ve got to do something about health care; where is the care in health care?’”

Karan hoped the then-first lady would be able to address some of these issues this time around. That’s why she was disappointed — and surprised — when Trump defeated Clinton in November.

“I’m appalled. I really am. I’m very sad about it. The one thing is, I do think we have to be aligned and feel a camaraderie. Never in my lifetime have I seen anything like this. We’re in a period of chaos. The world is in chaos on every single level.”

She also slammed Trump’s America-first mentality, arguing that an isolationist approach would ultimately hurt business and the public.


“This is not just about America — we are a world right now. I’m not negating that jobs are needed, but we have to be creative. What are those jobs? Can you imagine? There will be no more Mercedes, no more BMWs, no more Louis Vuitton, no more Prada.”

Check out the full interview.

Tatiana Baez

Tatiana Baez is mostly Salon's social media coordinator, but she also writes here and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn and tweets.

MORE FROM Tatiana BaezFOLLOW tatianabaezz

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Bill Clinton Clinton Foundation Designer Donald Trump Donna Karan Hillary Clinton Urban Zen Wwd