I started at DKNY in 1998. Almost fifteen years later, I still work for the same, amazing woman, Patti Cohen. Patti is my mentor, she is my go-to for everything. We’ve been family for years and I feel incredibly lucky to have her as a boss and friend. Patti is officially the EVP of Global Marketing & Communications at Donna Karan International. She is a fashion industry legend and she was basically the first person to step through these doors on 7th Avenue years ago, after Donna herself. The wall below is in her office. It’s years and years of thumb tacked memories, press and other wonderful mementos. If a picture says 1000 words, well this wall….
I know you will love Patti’s story in her own words. It’s a keeper-
"I found my fashion career on a Fire Island tennis court. My husband and I went to the tennis club the day they were assigning partners. Harvey’s a great player, so he was selected right away. I, on the other hand, was the last of two: the other was another young woman named Donna. They teamed us up. As a tennis partner, Donna was exhausting: she had the longest arms you ever saw and could hit every ball in one or two steps. Donna skipped the next week because she had to go to Bloomingdale’s to meet the Queen, as in Queen Elizabeth. My friend asked me how I didn’t know this was Donna Karan of Anne Klein, but I honestly didn’t, and even if I had known her last name, I wouldn’t have made the connection to Anne Klein. Donna was also very low-key. Anyway, as our friendship grew, Donna being Donna, kept asking me to “come help out” at work. I had many an odd job –in retail, advertising and other things, but didn’t really have a career. Donna was opening Anne Klein II and thought I’d be great. We never talked about at what. I came in and learned public relations by fire. By then, Donna was talking about opening her own small company, “designing clothes for me and my friends.” Anne Klein was a huge organization with too many constraints and expectations for Donna to design the clothes she envisioned, which is why it had to be small and be her own label. She asked me to go with her. I didn’t hesitate for minute, even though we didn’t discuss a job description or salary. I was Donna Karan New York’s very first employee, one of five to start. First we worked from Donna and Stephan’s apartment and then in a loft overlooking Bryant Park. While it didn’t seem it at the time, upon reflection it was incredibly exciting to be at the birth of the company. We talked about the clothes we wanted to wear and got to try on and play with everything. Donna came up with her Seven Easy Pieces, or what Stephan liked to call her Seven Easy Pieces of luggage. I’ve never looked back and have stayed ever since. People often say you shouldn’t stay at the same job forever, but the truth is I’ve had a million jobs within Donna Karan. I’ve created my career. I’m STILL creating it, with every day a new challenge and adventure. Through it all, I’ve met so many fascinating people and lifelong friends. I never know what’s next, which makes Donna Karan International an amazing place to be. At the end of every press release we put “to be continued.” That describes my career perfectly". -PC
“#PR101 Before you pitch, know your editors, who they are, what they cover and who they know. Then craft those words wisely because they tend to travel fast, furiously and usually into the wrong inbox-”—
Thank you to all my Twitter friends for making checking my @dkny timeline feel like a cocktail party every day! I am so appreciative that you read, react, contribute, advise and most of all laugh with me!
Ok so we’ll start the story yesterday evening when I thought I was going to a cocktail party for my friend Amanda Ross, newly appointed fashion director at Departures magazine. PC and I took a car downtown to her party at the Mermaid Inn. When we entered the restaurant it was hustling with a great bar scene and I started to contemplate how all Amanda’s guests were going to fit in such a small space. As we entered the back room I saw IP (from my team) first and thought to myself, wow that’s so weird that she would have come to this event and not mention to me that she was going? Hmm. But then I looked around the room a little closer and spotted my husband. Umm ok even weirder!? At that moment I scanned further and finally realized that this was a surprise birthday party for me! (Everyone yelling surprise also gave that away). OMG I was dying! No, literally in tears. Not only did CM plan this with PC, but the guests were all the people I have hired over my fifteen years at Donna Karan. Literally- amazing. It was so wonderful that everyone came out to celebrate with me and I pretty much couldn’t stop crying the entire night. Genius start to my birthday!
I went to sleep overjoyed and so appreciative of the thoughtful and amazing gesture of everyone. So when I woke up this morning on my birthday, I was smiling ear to ear.
To be clear, I love my birthday and I’m totally one of those people that celebrate it at least five times with different groups of people. I even love wearing a special birthday frock, today a big, black and white giant polka dot full skirt, black three-quarter sleeve bodysuit and black and white stripe ankle strap wedges. It was very 50’s meets Mad Men, complete with a high slicked back straight ponytail. I had a spring in my step and I even thought that perhaps this might be my best birthday yet!
I got to the office around 9:15am and went straight into a meeting with our fragrance PR team. But at around 10:00am, I noticed DV standing at the door of our conference room. Now this meeting was in the DKNY building which is around the corner from the Donna Karan building DV & I work in. That meant DV actually walked around the corner to find me and I knew it wasn’t to just say happy birthday.
I quickly got up and walked outside to meet her. It was then that she relayed the fact that the gowns that were supposed to leave LA and arrive in CityX today, never left. There was a mix up with the airlines where they scanned the box and “checked it in” but the box never got on the plane. AHHHHHH! Now to say these dresses needed to be in CityX was an understatement. Not only did they need to be there today, they needed to be there by 4pm.
People throw the term “Fashion Emergency” around a lot. Well this was literally a 911 situation. OMGGGGG. DV, PC and I started frantically calling our travel agent and various other people we knew. JB & JL on our marketing team were on it as well. We were all desperately trying to find a flight someone could hop on to hand carry the dresses. But there were no flights that could get the box in early enough to matter. So as any smart #PR girl would do, I called my bestie Tina Craig @bagsnob, because she had to know someone with a private plane in LA. I mean she’s BAG SNOB. The girl had Tiger Woods play golf at her birthday party one year. She gets stuff done-
(Please note: It’s at times like these that I stop and really examine my job and the incredible circumstances that lead me to perform crazy tasks at superhuman levels. It’s like the ultimate test of strength, agility, brain power and know-how and the curve balls never cease to amaze me).
Well, Tina emailed me back not even two minutes later with a confirmation that her FriendX had a new G4 that he never charters, but would lend to me as a favor (to her). I love having friends in high places who have friends in even higher places. Done and done. I mean what were the odds that the plane was literally waiting with a pilot and less than two hours later flying with our gowns to CityX. DV and I would stay in perma-heart attack zone for the next few hours.
But, I didn’t have the luxury of staring at the flight pattern online like she did. I had to leave work around 2:30pm to pick up my son at school because of all the days to have this, we had the school’s end of year gala at 6pm. To add to that, I was to be receiving the Community Leadership award. Speech and all.
We raced home, I showered both kids, got everyone dressed for a black tie affair and hopped into a cab only to realize that the 4yr old put on two different sandals. After screaming at the cab driver to please wait for me to get her correct shoes, we finally arrived at The Pierre at 5:15pm.
During pictures (pre-cocktail hour) my cell phone rang no less than five times, each time it was DV walking me though every moment of where the box was, who had the box and where the box was headed next. This is when people must look at me and think I am insane. I’m trying to listen to DV, keep my 4yr old’s shoes on, while my husband is trying to get the 7 year old to sit still for a photo.
By a sheer miracle the dresses made it with only ten minutes to spare and I ended up having a lovely evening/birthday with my family at The Pierre. #Breathe
Everyone is of course now sleeping and I’m telling you this tale, because I cannot get over what my life has been like in under twenty four hours. The love, the stress, the strategy, the teamwork, the adrenaline, the tears and the triumph make my life so complete. I’m utterly exhausted, but I felt the need to share a day in my life on my 38th birthday. A picture may say 1000 words, but a couple of hundred words say it all…