Donna Karan isn’t holding back! In her new memoir, The Journey, the famed designer reveals that she had a full-fledged affair for years with the late artist Stephan Weiss — whom she ultimately wed — while she was still married to her first husband, Mark Karan.
The Queens, N.Y., native, 67, details how she met Weiss while she was planning her engagement party. They slept together, and continued to see each other after she returned from her honeymoon in 1973. (Weiss was also married at the time.)
“I was raised to be scared and worried, just waiting for someone bad to come and get me,” she writes in the book, via Daily Mail. “To this day being alone is my greatest fear.”
According to Karan — who says she was called “Spaghetti Legs” and “Meatball Head” while growing up — her relationship with Weiss inspired her designs. “I was drawn to him with every cell in my being,” she writes. “The clothes dripped raw sensuality: Fur coats. Skin on skin. Big, seductive cashmere cardigans. Skirts with thigh-high slits.”
But there’s more. Karan reveals that her husband actually knew about the affair, and promised that she would end things with Weiss after she had an abortion. (At the time, she was sleeping with both men.) She and Mark eventually welcomed a daughter, Gaby, in 1974, but their marriage officially fell apart when she admitted in a therapy session that she was still in love with Weiss.
“Confusion, passion, sadness, love, guilt — I cycled through those feelings all the time,” she writes. “Yet I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up Stephan, the center of my emotional turmoil.”
Donna and Mark eventually divorced in 1978. She went on to marry Weiss on Sept. 11, 1983. “Despite the sweltering heat, the wedding was magical. My past, present, and future came together under those tents,” Karan recalls in the book. “At the center of it all was Stephan. Sixteen and a half years after meeting my sexy, creative soulmate, the love of my life, I was finally marrying him.” (Weiss died at the age of 62 in June 2001 of lung cancer.)
In My Journey, the DKNY founder also recalls her not-so-wonderful upbringing. She says her mother, Helen Rabinowitz, suffered from several ailments and was usually surrounded by bottles of pills. In addition, Donna would sometimes sleep in the same bed as her nanny and the nanny’s lover.
Donna shares juicy Hollywood tales in her book, too. After years of wanting to sing like Barbra Streisand, the designer finally met her in 1977. To this day, the women are still good friends. “I was taken aback by how short she appeared (she’s 5’5″). I was expecting a six-foot goddess,” Donna writes, joking that she needed a Valium during the meeting to calm her nerves.
Streisand asked for one of the fashion icon’s stylish chenille sweaters, but they were unfortunately recalled from stores because of their flammability.
“‘All right. I will draft a legal waiver indemnifying you and the company should the sweater catch fire. How’s that?'” Streisand said at the time. Donna says that she never saw a document, but she spotted the legendary singer wearing the top on a magazine cover soon thereafter.
“When Barbra gets something in her head, she will move heaven and earth to make it happen,” she writes. “I knew I had met my match — and my soul sister.”
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