DKNY is bidding farewell to creative directors Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow. The Public School designers, who were appointed to the house in 2015 following Donna Karan’s departure, brought a great deal of buzz to the brand, but their streetwise collections were met with lackluster reviews. Their final Spring 2017 outing, which was shown in a blaze of glory on New York’s Highline, debuted just after the brand was sold by LVMH to G-III Apparel Group, and despite the Insta-models on the runway and the celebs in the front row, many editors were already whispering about the pair's uncertain fate. CEO Caroline Brown, who came to DKNY from Carolina Herrera and oversaw the brand’s transition, is also exiting the house. The designers and Brown will leave before the end of the year.
“Given the company sale and subsequent change in strategies, we have decided to step down and focus on our own business, Public School,” said the designers in a joint statement. “It’s been an unbelievable experience to work side by side with the wonderful people at DKNY, especially our amazing design team and atelier. We wish the company success in the future.”
It’s sad to see young talents lose a major gig. However, Chow and Osborne never really hit the nail on the head when it came to the DKNY DNA. The brand, which was founded by Karan in 1989, was meant to offer an effortless wardrobe for every kind of woman. Chow's and Osborne’s interpretation, however, seemed geared towards It girls, and was unable to strike the aesthetic balance between aspirational and approachable.
There’s no news yet on the design duo’s replacement—or if DKNY will even hire one. But if the brand does bring in new creative talent, it needs to be someone who values women’s sartorial needs and comfort as much as a collection’s cool factor.