Michael Kors on the brand’s 40th anniversary

Naomi Campbell closed the 40th anniversary show in New York City.
(Courtesy of Michael Kors)

Over the past four decades, the brand has made the world realize that luxury can be comfortable and that has won it a global following. The brand has more than 1,000 stores around the world and after a few difficult years, it is seeing signs of recovery as economies open up. Its seventh Indian outlet – a 2,090 square foot space in Mumbai’s Jio World Drive shopping center – is slated to open in August, becoming the largest and first standalone store in India to offer ready-made. men’s wear, in addition to a luxury store selection of fashion and accessories, including handbags, shoes, jewelry, watches and perfumes. The brand arrived in India in 2013.

Her leisure class glamor has earned her recognition and awards, including the prestigious Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He dressed former US First Lady Michelle Obama for her official White House portrait in 2009, a time he describes as a “game changer.”

Beyond fashion, he works tirelessly to fight hunger in the world. In 2015, he was appointed World Ambassador Against Hunger for the United Nations World Food Program.

These are still ‘pinch me’ moments for him, he says. Growing up on Long Island, Kors was surrounded by all things fashionable. Her mother was a former Revlon model; her grandmother was a fan of American designer Bill Blass and two aunts “idolized” singer Cher. A fascination with design brought him to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, but he dropped out after two semesters to work as a window designer and “salesman” at a Fifth Avenue boutique where he also began selling his own designs, from blazers to skirts. . In 1981, he had started a small business and his journey to become an American icon.

We spoke to the designer about his background, fashion trends, the brand’s release in India, and lessons learned from covid-19. Edited excerpts:

Forty years old… how do you feel?

Very lucky. When I started I was 21 at the time, I never even imagined that I would be here 40 years later to share my collections with the whole world and have these stores spread across the world. I feel very lucky… to be able to do what I love and to do it successfully on such a large scale.

When I started out, being international meant selling your clothes at (luxury department store chain) Holt Renfrew in Canada and maybe (high end chain) at Selfridges in the UK. But have stores across the world? Never even dreamed of.

What would be your greatest achievement?

There were many moments of humility, but two stand out in my mind. Former First Lady Michelle Obama was seen in a play by Michael Kors for her first official White House portrait in 2009. It was a moment of great pride. The second was appointed Ambassador of the United Nations World Food Program.

For the 40th anniversary celebration, you have chosen the New York City Theater District. Is this place special for you?

New York is my home. He has this power to provide endless inspiration. And I’ve always been a huge Broadway fan – there’s no better way than the theater to transport you to a different place, a different time, a different life. Seeing the city and the entire theater industry shut down during the pandemic was heartbreaking. I was very honored to be able to use my 40th anniversary show to give back and shine a light on an industry that has brought me so much joy and inspiration throughout my career.

You were 12, weren’t you, when you started your first store?

Iron butterfly! It was in the basement of my grandparents’ house. I opened it in sixth grade and sold handmade snoods and overlocked leather bags. We opened a few days, full and never reopened. It was the original pop-up store! I knew from an early age that I was going to work in fashion.

And you entered the fashion industry at a pretty young age. Was it overwhelming?

At the time, I knew what I wanted to do, I knew who I wanted to create for and I wanted to do it right away. I’m sure there were nerves but mostly I just remember being turned on…. I couldn’t wait for the rest.

What was it like for you, an American designer, to be the creative director of a French brand like Céline in the 90s?

In 1997, if you didn’t spend a lot of time in Paris, there was this misconception that it was all perfumed ladies with jewelry and dogs. But when I first started drawing, most of the women I met were actually quite athletic. They wanted separate rooms and clothes that could follow their everyday life. And it really reinforced my belief that sportswear, which was inherently American, is truly something desired around the world.

How has the fashion industry changed since?

It is no longer an insider club. People today, thanks to social media, the Net, have more access than ever to designers, runways, a range of inspiration and influences. Today everyone is their own fashion editor and they decide what suits them and their lifestyle.

What does the art of design mean to you?

For me, designing means creating something that will bring happiness to someone every day. I never want to design something that is too precious to be used and enjoyed in real life.

Your plans for India?

We hope that we can soon continue to connect with our customers in India and, given the pain and difficulties of the past few months, find new ways to be there for them in their daily lives.

You have this power to make the simplest clothes look majestic and luxurious. Has that always been the mantra?

Yes, for me it has always been about the yin and yang of opulence and simplicity, laid back things but at the same time luxurious.

Has covid-19 made you rethink your approach to fashion?

To a large extent, yes. It gave us all a chance to slow down and think about the way we did things. And we’ve made some changes to things like the schedule and our production schedules. We will only have two collections per year compared to four with the pre-seasons.

What do you think the post-pandemic dressing will look like?

I think people are, in a lot of ways, ready to ditch the sweatpants and get dressed, so we’ll see a lot of exaggerated glamor when things get back to ‘normal’. At the same time, I think we’ve gotten used to a certain level of comfort, so for me when I design it’s about finding ways to channel that comfort into something super luxurious that you can’t wait to wear. at the office or for an evening.

What are your favorite clothes … the ones you feel at home in? What about the most luxurious items you own?

I’ve developed a uniform that takes me almost everywhere I need to go: jeans or cargo pants, a black t-shirt or a cashmere crew-neck sweater, a black blazer and my aviators, they make me feel at home in any situation. The most luxurious object I own, for me, is sentimental: my grandfather’s wedding ring.

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About Jennifer Amaro

Jennifer Amaro

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