Donna Karan's Urban Retreat

My shoulder is killing me and I so need a massage. Oh if only I could be Donna Karan for a day. Whenever I get a creak in my neck and there is lack of wellbeing in my life I can't help but think about when I visited Donna Karan's home. American fashion designer Donna Karan's New York apartment serves as both spa retreat and partypad - the ultimate style sanctuary in the city.

Sadly the day I was there she was in the air flying home from Europe. It was just me, the photographer Richard Powers and Donna's gorgeous chocolate labrador. Her chef came in for little while to prepare some meals and it seems she was no longer on a raw diet.

It's kind of weird to wander around a famous persons home without them being there but at the same time it gives such a clear insight into who they really are.  I walked away before interviewing her knowing she is spiritual, gentle and tactile.

Donna, queen of the New York fashion scene and global tastemaker has attracted a loyal clientele around the world thanks to her simple, well-cut and wearable clothes. The same elegant, understated approach infuses her New York 'bachelorette apartment,'
 set in an Art Deco block on the Upper West Side, enjoying incredible views over Central Park.

 When she wants to get away from it all, Donna heads for her boltholes in the Hamptons or the Turks and Caicos islands, but if she needs tranquillity when she's working in the city, this is her spiritual home.

Super-sophisticated and spacious, Donna's pad is a lesson in how to create a tranquil relaxation zone. Light-filled areas flow easily into one another and are decorated in a classic black and white palette, with emphasis on beautiful, quality materials like travertine and swamp teak.

Everything from the sofas to the candles has been designed to meet Donna's exacting requirements (think simple yet chic). And the building also links inside and outside in an imaginative way: along the glass external walls, architects Bonetti Kozerski (who design Donna's global boutiques) have created a stone bench which appears to cut through the glass, providing a seat and display surface in each room and on the terrace. ' What we love about this home is that it makes you feel instantly relaxed,' enthuses architect Enrico Bonetti. 'People react well to a space that is well proportioned and has a constant flow to it'.

Donna's chosen to have only one bedroom, but the lounge areas transform into comfy sleeping zones when her children and grandchildren descend. 'It makes for the ultimate sleepover party,' she laughs. While the apartment is frequently given over to post fashion show parties and intimate dinners where guests included Tibet's Dali Lama - it is primarily devoted to Donna's passion for physical and spiritual wellbeing.

In fact, one whole wing has been transformed into her very own spa - somewhere for her to practise yoga and meditate, as well as indulge in treatments and a daily massage before bed. 'It's my sanctuary, the calm to my chaos,' she says.

Donna also loves to be surrounded by her beloved art and books as well as momentoes of her late husband, Stephen Weiss, who died in 2002. 'My home celebrates my family and friends, art and culture, and it holds the memories that are a part of who I am'.

Donna's thoughts on creating a tranquil home

'Space means freedom and flexibility. My apartment is all about flow and openness, with one room leading into another and the inside blurring into the outdoors'. 

'To me, texture is a way to add an almost sculptural dimension to a room, whether with a tactile fabric - like cashmere or linen - or via a wall or floor surface - like bamboo or limestone'. 

'I'm a Libran, so I'm always looking to find balance within opposites - black and white, calm and chaos, dram and serenity'. 

'My late husband's presence is felt throughout this space, as he has always shared my passion for creating environments that cultivate learning and enlightenment'. 

'Family is everything to me, and every element in my home is designed with them in mind'. 

Daily Ritual
'I practise yoga every morning and then take my steam bath, where I get some of my best design ideas. Before I go to bed, I always try to have a massage to help me unwind and relax'. 

'I live for comfort. There are cushions everywhere!' 


  1. can i please spend a day in your shoes? what a dream!

  2. what a boring no personality way to decorate a home neither warm or inviting looks like an overdesigned hotel