To celebrate reaching 1 Million Facebook fans, Michael Kors posted a video celebrating the highlights of his career: from launching his eponymous line in 1981 to having his clothes featured on the cover of Vogue in 1999, to becoming a Project Runway judge, opening dedicated boutiques, dressing Michelle Obama for her official White House portrait, Kors' list of accomplishments goes on and on and on.
As it happens, my favorite moment of the designer's career, a moment which changed the course of the entire industry and turned fashion into the pop culture behemoth it is today, elevating major American fashion designers, including Kors himself, to superstardom was left out of the video.
Before New York Fashion Week was a centralized, contained week of highly-produced runway shows, designers showed over the course of two weeks, all over the city. They showed mostly at lofts and warehouses, gravitating towards the kinds of rickety, unfinished spaces that we mostly associate with the downtown visual arts and dance scene. Apparently it was fire hazard city.
So in April 1991, Kors was showing his fall collection at one of those hiply derelict lofts in the fashion district. Anna Bayle was modeling the first look, a camel-hair polo coat, when the heavy-on-bass soundtrack literally brought down the ceiling. A chunk of plaster hit British fashion critic Suzy Menkes on the head: she wasn't seriously injured (her pompadour also lived to tell the tale), the Berdorf's CEO offered her his seat, and the show went on.
Kors sent flowers the next day, but Menkes was furious. She complained about the incident to WWD, and told the industry bible that New York, with all its unmatched energy and design talent, was holding itself back by conducting its fashion week so unprofessionally. "We live for fashion," she said, "we don't want to die for it."
The designers organized, spearheaded by the new head of the CFDA, Fern Mallis, and the three major American designers at the time (Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein). The CFDA held a centralized NYFW at Hotel Marlowe the following season, but started looking for a more permanent home. After organizing a fashion event in a Central Park tent to celebrate the 1992 Democratic National Convention, they convinced Bryant Park to let them install similar tents for the 1993 shows. The first year at Bryant Park, NYFW saw an unprecedented amount of media coverage: for the first time ever, runway shows were covered not just by fashion publications, but also by pop culture outlets like MTV and VH1.
Bryant Park made fashion more visible nationally, and Michael Kors, in particular, owes a good chunk of his success to the industry's recently elevated standing in American culture. Of the million moments in his career, this one's definitely worth mentioning.
Image via Jeff Grossman/WENN