Beautiful inside and out: Designer Donna Karan. Photo courtesy of Donna Karan

Sometimes the hottest fashion accessory is a heart of gold.

When legendary designer Donna Karan isn't masterminding ravishing new runway looks or some covetable new fragrance, she's giving her support to a number of charitable projects.

This Wednesday (Nov. 18) she'll be serving as an honorary chair committee member alongside luminaries like Yoko Ono and Christy Turlington at Tibet House's Seventh Annual Benefit Auction at Christie's Auction House in New York City.

The auction will support Tibet House's mission of preserving Tibetan culture by benefiting the Tibetan Children's Village as well as the Tibetan communities in New York and New Jersey.

In anticipation of the auction, Karan chatted with StyleList about her work with Tibet House -- and how one lucky bidder could land lunch with the designer. And did we mention the shopping spree?

StyleList: How did you first get involved with Tibet House?
Donna Karan: I always had a passion for His Holiness the Dalai Lama's teachings and philosophy and I hugely admired Robert Thurman, the president of Tibet House US, and his books. As I began working on Urban Zen, the Tibet House US became an incredible resource and inspiration in its ability to be a vehicle for teaching and a catalyst for care.

SL: What about Tibetan culture resonates with you?
DK:
Tibetan culture is so unique and has such a profound wisdom and beauty. Tibetan art is so masterfully integrated with spirituality, and we're in a time when their culture is being confronted with extinction.

SL: What sets this year's Christie's auction apart from previous years? What are your expectations for the event, given that the recession has been deemed more or less on its way out?
DK: Recession or no recession, every year the items being auctioned off are amazing and the crowd is fantastic! This year there are so many great items up for sales -- vacations, unique art, jewelry -- and lunch with me!

SL: Are there are any particular lots that you have your eye on?
DK:
I'm never short on my desire for art so I will definitely have an eye out for that! This is such a wonderful event -- what a better way to shop. You're able to get the people you care about a present or gift while also helping a great philanthropy.

SL: You'll be donating an afternoon of shopping and lunch for one lucky bidder. Can you tell us a bit more about what will be involved?
DK:
We'll be shopping my collection and the bidder will get to choose three outfits to take home -- one for leisure, one for work and one for evening.

SL: What are some noteworthy lower-priced items up for bid that might appeal to those on a more conservative budget?
DK:
Most everything starts as low as one-third the retail value, and there are items that start as low as $50 so there is definitely something for everyone! There is a lot of really wonderful art under $500 and a diverse selection of spa and well-being packages being auction off as well.

SL: You're well-known for your charitable works. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?
DK:
My Urban Zen Foundation is another passion of mine. We work to raise awareness and inspire change in the areas of well-being, preserving cultures, and empowering children. We were fortunate enough to host His Holiness the Dalai Lama at Urben Zen in 2006. The heart of the foundation is the Urban Zen Center in New York, where we hold classes and forums.

Check out Cate Blanchett in a stunning Donna Karan dress on the December Vogue cover.