Donna Karan Fall 2012 Ready-to-Wear Collection

Donna Karan is undeniably a veteran, high in the rankings with Miuccia Prada, Carolina Herrera, and Rei Kawakubo. In the world of womanswear it’s almost too easy to neglect the plight and consistent success of female designers, but Karan and her peers have made it their business—pun intended—to create beautiful clothes for incredibly strong women.

This time around Karan tapped into old Hollywood’s androgynous icon, Marlene Dietrich. Designers walk tight ropes when choosing iconic figures as inspiration for their collections. But Karan steered clear of clichés, removing the focus from Dietrich’s celebrity and placing it on her own craftsmanship and gift for tailoring the feminine silhouette. I loved the deconstructed shirt collars around the necks and seductively draped faux wrap dresses. The pride and joy of this collection was definitely Karan’s well-constructed jumpsuits, cinched at the waist with double-wide belts that sat just below the perfect cleavage-framing lapels. It was the perfect blend of sex and power.

Jumpsuits are a tough trend to pull off, but Karan was smart enough to stay far from clingy silks. Instead she opted for menswear suiting fabrics like stretchy gabardines and wools to frame the female body instead of adhere to it.

Color was also important to this collection. An earthy palette of black, chalk-stripe grays, and mossy greens was periodically interrupted with a much needed jolt of crimson, which emphasized the sexy center of this impressively strong collection.