Donna Karan's home has museum-quality Julian Schnabel and Francis Bacon paintings adorning the walls, but she doesn't expect anyone to treat it like a museum. "I was brought up in a 'Don't touch me' apartment, but I am the opposite," says the fashion designer. "With all the dogs and kids that come through here, I don't care what happens to a white couch. If something isn't here to be comfortable, I don't want to know it."
The 7,000 sq.-ft. apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side also helped give Karan, 64, the feeling of a fresh start after she lost her husband of 17 years, artist and business partner Stephan Weiss, to lung cancer back in 2001. "I don't think I could have lived alone in the apartment we shared," says Karan. "He was such a power in my life on every single level." She coped with Weiss's death by throwing herself into work. "I became very withdrawn, and I had to be busy," she says. "Then you don't have to think." Still reticent about dating, she has filled her home with Weiss's sculptures and devoted time to Urban Zen, a charity she started in his honor, which helps bring holistic wellness into mainstream medical treatment. "Will there ever be another Stephan? No," she says, "but his memory is all around."
With a spa, a yoga-Pilates studio, a runway, a wraparound terrace overlooking Central Park and an enormous walk-in closet that would make Carrie Bradshaw envious, Karan, who also has homes in the Hamptons and in Turks and Caicos, uses this space for everything from indulgent mornings alone to fashion shows and fund-raisers. "This place is an all-purpose apartment," she says. She put up friends who lost power during superstorm Sandy and frequently hosts her daughter Gabrielle, Stephan's children Corey and Lisa and her seven grandchildren, who range in age from 7 to 25-even if they don't enjoy all of the apartment's perks. "I'm obsessed with the Thanksgiving Day Parade," says Karan, whose home offers a front-row seat to the festivities. "The grandkids don't love it as much as I do. They come here and watch it on TV!"