Just across from the New York Stock Exchange, illuminated in blue and red, Karan welcomed old friends and industry powerhouses to a fortress once owned by J.P. Morgan, its exposed brick and beams as backdrop to a collection that looked back on some of her iconic elements but kept her New York woman moving forward.
"She's so signature to New York," said one of her guests, fellow designer and actress Katie Holmes, who was dressed in Karan. "She's given us all a new dream to have. I think that should be applauded."
Karan paired her clothes of black viscose and felt, ivory shearling and ruby silk chiffon with a dreamy film by friend and fashion photographer Steven Sebring featuring a woman in swirls of motion made with his "geodome," an enclosure a subject stands inside for a multidimensional take on form and movement.
It was "Revolution," a multimedia presentation Sebring put on last year at a New York City armory that inspired Karan to seek him out as part of her anniversary celebration.
"It's all about the body," she said of the new work. "It's all about the movement of the body and the expression of the woman and how she is so core in her strength."
Deborra-Lee Furness, who attended with husband Hugh Jackman, considers Karan that woman.
"She's one of the great fashionistas," Furness said. "I mean, 30 years. That's amazing in this business."
Jackman agreed, though he said he knows little about fashion. "No, I'm an actor. Someone dresses me. They tell me what to say, where to go," he joked.
Furness interjected: "He's a pretty good clotheshorse."
Rita Ora, Trudie Styler and Bernadette Peters also sat on Karan's front row.
For Holmes, it's Karan's knack for understanding women that makes her such a great designer. "You just feel the most feminine. You feel great. She really designs for women."
The women on Karan's anniversary runway wore bodysuits in illusion tulle, other sexy sheers showing slices of skin and backless evening looks with sequins and beads. But their strength was present in military-inspired coats and jackets, some with quirky sleeves of shaggy fur.
Karan's city was omnipresent, as her notes summed up: "New York is what I stand for — the past, the present, the future."
By Leanne Italie with assistance form Nicole Evatt.