A stylish yet substantive memoir from a fashion titan, written in a New York accent.
With equal parts restraint and candor, Karan chronicles the story of her life so far: a rocky childhood in Queens, her time at Parsons School of Design, her rise to the top as a fashion designer, and her present-day passion for philanthropy. Karan’s turbulent childhood informed her early goal of becoming a stay-at-home mother, as well as an enduring impulse to surround herself with people and nurture them. She breathlessly narrates her climb to the top at Anne Klein and the creation of her own label—here, she’s in Milan sourcing fabric; there, she’s at Versailles, surrounded by celebrities. The glamour and elitism of the fashion world threatens to alienate readers, but the author’s voice is genuine and honest. Her career path, however, soon cedes importance to her spiritual one. But when talk of psychics, cabala, yogis, feng shui, and silent retreats veers from the mainstream, Karan takes readers by the hand. She acknowledges her “woo-woos” while never belittling her faith in them. She writes of the professional and romantic beginnings and endings that have shaped her life with compassion, both for herself and for those involved. Ironically for a woman who so famously embraces black for her wardrobes, in Karan’s life, there is no black or white. There are no real villains here and few absolutes: just good friends, valuable mentors, great loves, and significant losses. Embellished with decorous name-dropping—one of her best friends is Barbra Streisand—Karan’s effort is still authentic and sometimes funny. Without the need for lurid details or sensational ploys, she keeps the pages turning.
Clothes, Karan believes, should be “a supporting player in your story, never the story itself.” In her elegant and satisfying memoir, the author achieves just that.