Who Needs Real Models?

Donna Karan enlists (hip) real people to showcase DKNY collection

Donna Karan enlists (hip) real people to showcase DKNY collection

Fashion Week fall 2014 collections Donna Karan DKNY February 2014
Donna Karan takes her runway bow. Photo by © Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
DKNY Look 14 February 2014
DJ/writer/Cybrog Julianna Huxtable wears a DKNY black vinyl pleated skirt and sweatshirt with faux fur fringe sequin sleeves. Photo courtesy of DKNY
DKNY Look 14 February 2014
Student John Tuite wears a DKNY navy suit and crewneck sweatshirt. Photo courtesy of DKNY
Fashion Week fall 2014 collections Donna Karan DKNY February 2014
Actress/biologist Mashana Korchagina wears a DKNY shearling cape vest over a satin and lace slip dress. Photo by © Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
DKNY Look 47 February 2014
Student Akita Nara wears a DKNY gray wool car coat, tuxedo with black lapel and crewneck sweatshirt. Photo courtesy of DKNY
Fashion Week fall 2014 collections Donna Karan DKNY February 2014
A model wears DKNY lace dress with pleated hem. Photo by © Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Fashion Week fall 2014 collections Donna Karan DKNY February 2014
DKNY Look 14 February 2014
DKNY Look 14 February 2014
Fashion Week fall 2014 collections Donna Karan DKNY February 2014
DKNY Look 47 February 2014
Fashion Week fall 2014 collections Donna Karan DKNY February 2014

Donna Karan has become an urban legend for building a fashion empire based on a hip New York look during the last quarter-century. Part of her success has come in continuing to channel the spirit of the city that never sleeps.

For the showing of her fall 2014 DKNY collection, Karan decided to enlist some real New Yorkers as models to showcase her streetwise looks. "You can weave your own family," a voice intoned in a video before the show kicked off with rapper Angel Haze in a crepe jumper with fringe sequin collar, faux fur vest and perforated leather jacket.

The real models added some street cred to the clothes and a more festive runway spirit.

Nearly half of the 55 looks in the collection were showcased by non-models with cool jobs — tattoo artist, jewelry designer, club host, pro skateboarder and budding entrepreneur (the co-founder of Beautified, an app to locate same-day beauty services). They added some street cred to the clothes and a more festive runway spirit, with whoops of encouragement from friends in the crowd.

The novice models were just as professional, albeit a little more real-looking and certainly more diverse. They sported dreadlocks, 'fros and dyed blue hair — looks seldom seen on Fashion Week runways — and represented a much wider spectrum of racial and ethnic groups.

The collection featured the requisite letter jackets, puffy coats and fur hoods, along with cozy striped shearling coats and tiger-print cardigans. It also had a lot of black — this is, after all, the New York look — in vinyl skirts, a lace-and-faux fur shift and sweatshirts with sequin sleeves. But toward the end, Karan slipped in houndstooth patterns in black and navy, along with pink parkas and a lace slip dress for a more dressed-up occasion.

Getting most of the attention before the show was singer Rita Ora, who caused a near stampede from eager photographers. Ora, who is the face of DKNY in ads, is currently filming Fifty of Shades of Grey, but she declined to reveal how the movie version might differ from the book. "I can't spoil it," she said.