Ten Underrated Red Carpet Dresses Designed Under Donna Karan

On Tuesday, June 30, after 31 years as the head honch-ess of her own Donna Karan International fashion house (which also includes mall fave DKNY), Karan announced that she was stepping down as its chief designer.

She began her career by first working for the brand Anne Klein in the late 1960s, post completing courses from the esteemed art school Parsons School of Design. The Queens, NY native then moved up the ranks to being Klein’s creative director until she ventured on her own to develop and push her namesake line in 1985 with “The Essentials” (seven everyday pieces). In 1988, the more casual chic little sister to Donna Karan New York was introduced, otherwise known as DKNY.

By the mid-90s, Karan was synonymous with American fashion and was often the only woman recognized as an innovator and icon in this spectrum of the industry, alongside other “boy’s club” notables Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein. She especially stood out because as much as male designers spoke on wanting to accentuate the female form, Karan intrinsically knew what women wanted and needed when it came to clothes. She embodied the era (and closets) of the Working Girl.

While she will continue to be an advisor to DKI and DKNY (those are her professional babies!), as written in the press release on Instagram, Karan will be submitting much of her time to her philanthropic program Urban Zen.

In her decades as a top fashion designer, Karan’s pantsuits and gowns were often on the minimalist side, while outre houses like Versace, Jean Paul Gaultier and Dior by John Galliano sometimes stole the fashion coverage live from the red carpet. When celebs have worn Karan, it’s usually with intentions to evoke classic femininity or a kind of independent woman status.

Still, Karan sometimes gave traditional silhouettes an afterglow of punk appendages and used frisky colors (compared to her usual neutral/nudes palette)!

Many of her gowns have graced high-profile events worldwide, but below are ten selected dresses that definitely got photographed but are underrated in just how the “Queen of Seventh Avenue” mixed dependable elegance with those aforementioned inclusions of a feminist, punk-ish jazz.

Rita Ora at the 2014 MTV VMAs

INGLEWOOD, CA - AUGUST 24:  Singer Rita Ora arrives at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California.  (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
INGLEWOOD, CA – AUGUST 24: Singer Rita Ora arrives at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Kelly Rowland at the 2013 Academy Awards

HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 24:  Singer Kelly Rowland arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 24: Singer Kelly Rowland arrives at the Oscars at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 24, 2013 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)

Nina Dobrev at the 2012 Costume Institute Gala

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07:  Nina Dobrev attends the "Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations" Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 07: Nina Dobrev attends the “Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations” Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)

Naya Rivera Dorsey at the 2013 SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 27:  Actress Naya Rivera arrives at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 27: Actress Naya Rivera arrives at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards held at The Shrine Auditorium on January 27, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jennifer Graylock/FilmMagic)

Camila Alves at the 2015 SAG Awards

LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 25:  Model Camila Alves attends the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 25: Model Camila Alves attends the 21st Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 25, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images)

Kerry Washington at the 2011 8th Annual Keep A Child Alive Black Ball

NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 03:  Kerry Washington attends the 8th annual Keep A Child Alive Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom on November 3, 2011 in New York City.  (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 03: Kerry Washington attends the 8th annual Keep A Child Alive Black Ball at the Hammerstein Ballroom on November 3, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/FilmMagic)

Jennifer Lopez at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards

LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 18:  Singer Jennifer Lopez attends the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV – MAY 18: Singer Jennifer Lopez attends the 2014 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on May 18, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Naomie Harris at the 2013 Costume Institute Gala

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 06:  Naomie Harris attends the Costume Institute Gala for the "PUNK: Chaos to Couture" exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City.  (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY – MAY 06: Naomie Harris attends the Costume Institute Gala for the “PUNK: Chaos to Couture” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 6, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic)

Lizzy Caplan at the 2014 Primetime Emmy Awards

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 25:  Actress Lizzy Caplan attends the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA – AUGUST 25: Actress Lizzy Caplan attends the 66th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on August 25, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David Livingston/Getty Images)

Portia di Rossi at the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - MARCH 21:  Portia de Rossi attends the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MARCH 21: Portia de Rossi attends the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 21, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California.(Photo by JB Lacroix/WireImage)

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