Fashion icon Donna Karan dishes on her 20-year friendship with the late famed architect Zaha Hadid

Donna Karen (credit David Shankbone via Wikipedia), DONNA KARAN WOMAN perfume and Zaha Hadid
Donna Karen (credit David Shankbone via Wikipedia), DONNA KARAN WOMAN perfume and Zaha Hadid

It isn’t surprising iconic fashion designer Donna Karan and the late architectural wizard Zaha Hadid had a longstanding friendship. Even a quick glance one can see commonalities — both being strong women with creative spirits that have made names for themselves in the world of design.

Earlier this year, when Hadid, the famed architect and the first woman to win the Pritzer Prize passed away at the age of 65, Karan wrote a tribute to her work, comparing her buildings to “a gust of wind—organic, forceful and utterly natural.”

More recently Karan, shared some of her thoughts on their relationship in Bazaar, detailing how the duo first met in London when Karan went to an exhibition of some of Hadid’s architectural creations and was wowed by their originality. “Her work was like nothing I’d ever seen before—modern but sensual, and moving all at the same time.” She recounts Hadid’s larger than life presence. strength and their common bonds — both being designers and artists, and most of all, women of great style.

“I can’t remember what she was wearing that day, but Zaha had such style—and it was definitely a defined style. It wasn’t about whose clothes she had on; it was about her. She loved fabric and movement and enjoyed fashion.”

Karan also noted Hadid’s universal appeal and acceptance.

“She was born in Iraq, went to school in the Middle East and Europe, lived a lot of her life in England, and traveled all over. Because of that, I think she had an ability to truly understand the dynamics of what’s happening in the world today. She knew what it meant to be from many places, to be many things. Zaha could go anywhere—and her work was not only accepted but desired.”

The two shared not only an artistic sense — they even collaborated on a fragrance in 2012 — but also both were influenced by feminitity. Karan, who is well known for her flattering clothing designs, saw that Hadid’s work also was influenced by her gender.

“In some ways, though, I think it was Zaha’s womanliness that propelled her to do what she did. Zaha had this understanding of beauty, of the movement of life. There was a femininity in her work, this womanly savoir faire, and a sensitivity and a sensuality that always came through in the things she made.”

Mourning her BFF’s passing, Karan touchingly laments, “I wish I could talk to her now because it feels like she had so much more to say.”