Donna Harrison, Closets
Donna Harrison

Turbans are Donna's signature and the symbol of her indomitable spirit. She began wearing them after she lost her hair from the grief of her mother's death. Now they are the reason she is stopped everywhere for what she refers to as her "Chinese smorgasboard" wardrobe. Donna was a ballet dancer for most of her career. She fell in love with ballet at an early age but was faced with the fact that she was not the "typical" ballet dancer at the time. Donna says that the prejudice she faced propelled her and made her say to herself, "I love this form of art and I am going to move past this ignorance and do this." On the day of her audition with the renowned Alvin Ailey Dance Company (where Donna danced in the reperatory company for 5 years), she found herself riding the elevator with the legendary dancer and choreographer, "who everyone in the dance world considers God," Agnes de Mille. Ms. de Mille "looked at me and said, 'Are you going to the Alvin Ailey audition?' and I said, 'Yes ma'am, I am.' We stayed quiet for a couple of seconds, then she turned to me and she said, 'I feel your determination in this elevator. Alvin's a fool if he doesn't pick you.' I looked at her and couldn't believe she had said those words. I later learned that she was one of the judges." Working at Ailey was where her eyes were opened to the avant garde people of New York and she increasingly threw off her parochial plaids for what is now her "gypsy" style. At a recent event at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where Donna works, she recounts a story of Carolina Herrera stopping her about her dress that cost her $10. "I was standing near the entrance of the African art. Ms. Herrera comes right up to me and says, 'My darling, you look very chic. Is that one of my designs?' And I said, 'No, it's Jessica McClintock.' She said, 'Oh, it doesnt' matter darling, you look excellent. Carry on.' I felt like a million bucks."

If you like Donna, you might also enjoy Tziporah Salamon, Carlyle Hanson, or Ellen Fisher.

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