Meeting Donna Karan wasn’t just about the fashion, it was about giving back to communities. It was a cool, comfortable Wednesday evening in Newport Beach, the sun setting over the Bay was shining through the windows at what was formerly a restaurant now turned exclusive fashion boutique called A’Maree’s. Originally founded by their mother, owners and sisters Dawn Klohs and Denise Schaefer have created a fashion wonderland like no other. A grand entrance with “windows on the bay” light up the eloquent fashions one would find on the runways in Paris or Milan but the warm welcome and down to earth attitude from these world traveled sisters is enough to make any timid fashionista feel right at home. It’s just this type of welcome that fashion icon, Donna Karan embraced to further her mission of health and healing through her integrative therapy program, Urban Zen. What began in New York is now spanning across the globe with the goal to “raise awareness, inspire change, because we care about well-being, empowering our children and preserving cultures,” says Karan.
Donna Karan is every bit of her Urban Zen vision. Dressed very casually yet elegantly in one of her black signature cashmere silk dress designs, sandals and her own rustic jewelry, Karan wears only enough makeup to accentuate her soulful eyes and her hair is simple, relaxed and as comfortable in appearance as her clothing. “The general principles of caring and sharing and thinking about someone else affect you and effect change,” shares Karan. “I look at life in terms of how I can make a difference in the world which motivates a lot of what I do.” Karan’s new furniture line, a part of Urban Zen, feels as effortless and soothing as her clothing and style and with a simplistic beauty encompassing the earthiness she seems to invoke in herself and others. Along her philanthropic journey, Karan has come to the aid of the Haitian community through “A Tent Today, a Home Tomorrow” to which people can donate $1,000 for a ten-person tent and supplies for Haitians in need. Karan’s Urban Zen Foundation has given over $850,000 to Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City for programs in integrative therapy. And, among other philanthropic efforts, ten percent of proceeds from Urban Zen stores go towards the foundation and its wellness programs with the goal of bringing yoga and related integrative therapies into hospitals, clinical settings, private practice as well as nursing schools across the country, nutritional workshops, and many unique opportunities for inspiration and learning.
The serene surroundings at A’Maree’s was the perfect setting for a gathering celebrating the wellness outreach by Donna Karan and her Urban Zen Foundation. Guests sipped on chardonnay, cocktails and sparkling water, savored appetizers all in the glow of the glimmering water from the bay which can be seen through the portholes in the floor. Karan pleasantly hand selected “seven easy pieces” for guests to try on while tending to flurries of questions with a natural grace and ease. If one had pre-determined a fashion icon to be flamboyant, boisterous, and bursting with high energy, they would have pre-determined someone other than the beautiful and natural Donna Karan who is as seemingly tender as her desire to improve the lives of others.
For more information on the Urban Zen Foundation, visit www.urbanzen.org. As well, enjoy the casual elegance of A”Maree’s located at: 2241 West Coast Highway, Newport Beach, CA 92663; 949 642 4423 or stroll by their website at http://www.amarees.com/