“A (not so) Little Night of Surprises” at Donna Karan’s New York Urban Zen Center brought together some of the designer’s most important passions – fashion, music and unifying mind, body and spirit. The evening introduced guests to Deirdre Hade and William Arntz’s “The (not so) Little Book of Surprises”, a compilation of poetry and wisdom, with inspiring images by photographer Endre Balogh, that provides an accessibly practical guide to awakening the limitless reservoirs of individual inner potentials. Conceived to take readers on an illuminating journey, with some unexpected turns along the way, the book comes at an opportune time when society seems to be hurtling ever faster into a chaotic jumble of noise, information, stress, and discord. The event was highlighted by a conversation between the designer and the book author, exploring themes of expressing style from discovering an inner clarity.

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Ms. Hade has been described as a “spiritual adept” who founded Radiance Healing and Meditation in 2007. Her extensive studies into the most arcane spiritual traditions combined with an insightful perspective imbue an ageless wisdom to her work. Co-author Mr. Arntz, on the other hand, has an impressive scientific background and even wrote a successful software system before transitioning into more creative endeavors. He produced, scripted and co-directed the acclaimed documentary “What the BLEEP Do We Know!? “. The book’s images were provided by the multi-talented Mr. Balogh, a professional photographer and internationally-recognized concert violinist who has worked with the Berlin Philharmonic and Zubin Mehta.

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Ms. Karan, who stepped down from her eponymous label in 2015, launched the Urban Zen Foundation initially to fund culture preservation, and it has since naturally evolved into a wide-ranging philanthropic fashion and lifestyle brand. Deliberately designed to defy trends and seasons, her Urban Zen collections reflect her core design aesthetic – luxurious city-centric basics with elegant ease and superior draping – while showing the centered serenity and global culture sensibility of the brand. Since its inception Urban Zen has tackled a multitude of projects aimed at inspiring change in vital socio-cultural issues, preserving and celebrating uniquely regional craftsmanship, educating and empowering children, and advocating for an encompassing healthcare paradigm that combines western science with nutrition, yoga and eastern healing practices. The congruence between its core values and the message in “The (not so) Little Book of Surprises” set the stage for the evening’s get together with proceeds from the book benefitting the Urban Zen Foundation. Urbanzen.com Bookofsurprises.com

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IMAGES (1) Urban Zen (2) Donna Karan with Deirdre Hade (3) the guests gather for the book launch (4) Donna talks about Urban Zen’s mission – Courtesy of Urban Zen Foundation Photography by Patrick MacLeod