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Carrie Donovan and Magic the Dog in an Old Navy Advertisement. Photo via TVAcres.com. CARRIE DONOVAN Born: March 22, 1928 Died: November 12, 2001Wrote for:The New York Times, The New York Times Ma…

This woman is someone I would love to pattern myself after…

The late Carrie Donovan.

~Alicia J. Alexander, Image Werks Corporation

Beginnings.
Even from an early age, Carrie Donovan (born Carolyn Gertrude Amelia Donovan) was fascinated with fashion. When she was just 10 years sold, she mailed her own sketches for a design collection to the actress Jane Wyman, who replied with a handwritten letter. She later attended the Parsons School of Design, graduating in 1950. She worked as a journalist for 30 years but always wrote her copy out by hand; she never got the hang of the typewriter, much less the computer.

Career Highs.
Donovan gained recognition as a style editor for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and the New York Times Magazine, but it was her stint at Old Navy that really brought her into the public eye. In 1997, she began appearing in their advertisements, wearing her signature pearls and huge, round black-rimmed glasses. In the fashion world, she was one of the first to praise the work of designers Donna Karan and Perry Ellis, so she knew talent when she saw it.

“Fashion is entertainment. That’s why these top models are so fascinating to kids. They’re dying to know about Naomi and Christy, or whoever we’ve declared the new one this afternoon.”

– Carrie Donovan

A model on the Donna Karan runway.

Career Lows.
Before she found her niche as a fashion journalist, Donovan held some related but largely unsuccessful jobs. She never made it as a designer, being as inept with a needle and thread as she was with a typewriter. She started out in the hat department at Saks Fifth Avenue, and later left journalism to become a public relations executive at Bloomingdale’s, but ultimately returned to fashion reporter for the Times.

Legacy.
Though we recognize her face from the Old Navy commercials, there are so many other things that Donovan has brought to the fashion world. One of her best talents was her ability to flit easily between high society and the common masses, both in her personal life and as a style professional. She helped bring Donna Karan and Perry Ellis to fame, and she united Elsa Peretti with Tiffany’s, feeling sure that Peretti would open the doors to a new demographic for the upscale company. Even her work with Old Navy gave new fashion credibility to the casual-wear company. Vogue editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland told her: ”My dear, you’ve got the common touch!”

A portrait of Carrie Donovan.

Get the Look.
Donovan was fun and flamboyant, just as her Old Navy ads depicted her. Her staples were always the glasses, pearls, and occasional head scarf, but she had a real appreciation for everything “outside the box” coupled with a pragmatism that appealed to readers.
– Olivia

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Curated and Published by: Image Werks Corporations

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