New York is too large and all-encompassing to fit into one box. It can be dark and gritty, posh and glamorous, or cool and laidback. Collecting all those many shades of the city that never sleeps and packaging it in a concise way is DKNY, the fashion label founded in 1989 by designer Donna Karan as a younger-leaning offshoot of her larger, eponymous brand. Thirty years later, it is all that is left standing of the LVMH-owned company.
To celebrate DKNY’s longevity, the brand has enlisted three native New Yorkers to front its anniversary campaign, each conveying a passion that the Big Apple fostered. Singer Halsey (née Ashley Nicolette Frangipane) is the face for the women’s line, while music producers Steven and Chris Martinez of the Martinez Brothers take charge of the men’s. The two associated videos showcase the sensory overload that is this city through fast-paced camera movements, flashing red lights, and stacked television screens in a studio space. The two clips mirror one another in terms of look, but clearly differ in the attire and gestures.
In Halsey’s video, she is seen in a number of outfits: a sleek black suit with pumps, a blazer dress, denim separates, and a leopard-print sports bra, bike shorts, and sneakers. She dances along the thumping background music, and, towards the end, picks up brushes and paint to create a Pollock-style work. This is in reference to her arts upbringing (she enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design before dropping out due to financial hardships). Although she makes her living as a musician, she still readily presents her paintings on her Instagram.
The Martinez Brothers, on the other hand, display their mastery of the turntables, something they developed as local DJs before touring the globe. “We were born and raised in the Bronx,” they jointly express in a statement. “We are blessed to have found our passion through music. It’s taken us to the far corners of the world, and along the way, we have met so many people and have had the craziest adventures.” Both don a selection of coats, suits, and daywear that, according to them, typify their home city. “[New York] made us who we are, and is with us always wherever we may be. You can hear it in the music we play, and how we talk, and see it in the way we dress. That’s why this partnership with DKNY is and so natural, and makes perfect sense for us.”
By enlisting a fresh-faced crop of celebrities with strong ties to New York, DKNY is trying to make the case that it is still the ultimate purveyor of New York’s style. The campaign aligns with the brand’s heritage of incorporating iconic elements of New York life—from the taxi cabs to the Statue of Liberty to the Empire State Building—which are cast atop an assortment of sleek and sporty silhouettes. Three decades on, DKNY still hews to a visual language that, by and large, appeals to all cultures, one that collects all that the city represents and places it into a box ready for purchase.