About Donna Ricco

Through her designs and private label, Donna Ricco ‘81 is among Mount Mary University’s most recognizable fashion alumnae. After graduating with a degree in fashion design, she moved to New York City to pursue her career in fashion. Donna sold her first dress to a small boutique and turned her NYC apartment into a studio. Not long after, her designs were carried by Nordstrom, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Lord & Taylor, Dillard’s – practically every major store in every city across the United States. 

In June 2008, Donna gained notable media attention when Michelle Obama wore an off-the-rack Donna Ricco dress while co-hosting “The View” during her husband’s presidential campaign.

Donna’s signature statement, “nothing’s more effortless than a dress,” made her the trusted source for on-trend, wearable dresses for decades.

Partnering with Mount Mary

Ricco has worked in all aspects of fashion, including research, design and presentation, sales and product development. Her network extends to professional connections in the fields of design and textiles, merchandising, sales and production.

In fall 2018, Donna Ricco joined the University’s Fashion Department as an Executive Fellow. She divides her time between the Mount Mary campus in Milwaukee and her home base in New York, where she also works on behalf of the University, expanding its industry connections.

 “Donna Ricco’s name carries national recognition and respect, a name known for her creative vision and her integrity. We are delighted to welcome Donna Ricco home to Milwaukee, and Mount Mary University,” said Christine Pharr, Ph.D., Mount Mary University President.

Here's to the Bold: Donna Ricco

Donna’s Response to “The View”


“My phone immediately started ringing off the hook,” says Donna, who had to hire a publicist to navigate all the interview requests suddenly pouring in. “The beauty of that experience, was that it happened naturally. I had no idea she was going to wear one of my dresses! She bought it off the rack, which says so much about what I’d been trying to accomplish my whole career.”

Other TV Appearances
“The View” wasn’t first time that Donna Ricco's pieces have made a TV appearance. Her dresses have shown up on "How I Met Your Mother," "Days of Our Lives" and "The Real Housewives of New York City." Vanna White once devoted a week to Ricco's dresses on "Wheel of Fortune." Source: NY Daily News


Vision for the Future


“Although I’ve retired from the day-to-day design of Donna Ricco dresses, I still love to follow fashion, both the creative and the business. I’ve been thinking about how I might put this interest to good use. Because I stay connected to Mount Mary, I realized I could give back by sharing my interest and experiences, as well as my vast network of industry professionals.

“The opportunity to return to Mount Mary is an exciting turn of events. To be able to give back, to share my career experience as well as that of a vast network of industry experts is reflective of what made the fashion program at Mount Mary so inspiring to me as a student.

“My vision is to research these trends and to connect and interact with those individuals and organizations whose ideas and methods will impact the way we build the fashion program at Mount Mary.”





The truth is, I came to Mount Mary not knowing where I would go in life. But Mount Mary really helped me understand that I had a passion for fashion and the ambition to do something right away.

Donna Ricco '81

Michelle Obama Wears Donna Ricco on "The View"

Michelle Obama Wears Donna Ricco on "The View"

This event attracted the attention of the national news media as well as a sudden surge in sales.

Donna Ricco with Professor Sandi Keiser

Donna Ricco with Professor Sandi Keiser

"Donna was extraordinarily talented, especially in construction and pattern making. There wasn't any skill that was difficult for her. She could do it all."

Outstanding Dress Award

Outstanding Dress Award

Recognizing Donna's contribution to the dress industry, a dress award in Donna's name is given to a fashion design student each year at the CREO fashion show. Pictured here is the 2017 Outstanding Dress Award winner, Jamie O’Gallagher.

Inspiration and Vision

Inspiration and Vision

“Every woman should look great in the clothing she wears,” says Donna. “And it’s my role as a fashion designer to make her choice as simple as possible.”

Generations of Fashion

Generations of Fashion

In 2015, we celebrated 50 years of fashion design at our Threads of Fashion gala event. Pictured here are fashion designer, Karen Davidson '81 (left), Donna Ricco '81 (middle), and the founder of the nation's first four year fashion design program, Sister Aloyse Hessburg.