Runway News

Michael Kors Regrets Designing Men’s Bodysuits and Other Quotes from Fashion Icons with Fern Mallis

Sold out for months, Michael Kors marks the last fashion icon to be interviewed by Fern Mallis in her 92Y series. If there’s one thing that's for sure after the engaging interview, it’s that the Long Island-born Swedish Jewish designer loves dressing women. Here's a look at the notable tidbits.

  • Like Tom Ford, and many other fashion designers, Michael Kors (a Leo) is a strong believer in astrology.
  • Kors was born Karl Anderson Junior, "Very not Jewish."
  • "I wanted a very adult name" — hence, Michael Kors.
  • Kors had a short-lived modeling and acting career, "Trust me, it was the only time I wore a baseball uniform."
  • At the age of five, Kors' mother remarried and he helped design her wedding dress.
  • Kors' mom started asking him if he was gay when he was 7, but the designer says that he knew by the time he was 10 or 11.
  • The designer did commercials when he was a young boy and used to come into Manhattan with his mom for auditions. His mom would put him in a cab with a note for the driver so that she could go off and audition herself. He still has his SAG card.
  • Kors opened his first shop in his basement. It was called Iron Butterfly Boutique and he sold candles, leather bags, and copper bracelets and invited all the kids from his block.
  • Kors didn't like how his clothes would be cleaned when he was in summer camp so he started his own dry cleaning service.
  • "I love glamour, I love indulgence, but at the same time, I love simplicity."
  • "I'm terrible at tennis, but I always looked great."
  • Like Tom Ford, Michael Kors was a Studio 54 regular.
  • Kors says he always knew what he liked, which caused much contention with his professors at FIT.
  • Kors never finished school and can't sew. "I would never tell anyone to drop out and work for me," but the designer wanted to get out in the world and work.
  • Vera Wang, then in her Vogue days, was an early muse.
  • Vera Wang invited Michael Kors to his first Met Ball, which took place the night John Lennon was murdered.
  • Kors rented sewing machines and rolled them up 8th Avenue to put together his first collection.
  • On his model choices: "I've always thought that the best thing I do is frame a person and it's the woman or man who brings it alive so from day one we had great girls."
  • Kors hired Derek Lam in the 90s and he worked for him for many years.
  • On designing mesnwear: "I wouldn't wear it all and I couldn't wear it all, but I have to want to wear it all."
  • On the worst things he has ever designed: "Bodysuits for men."
  • The ceiling caved in during one of Kors' first fashion shows just as Naomi Campbell walked the runway.
  • Michael Kors started at Celine at the same time that Marc Jacobs joined Louis Vuitton.
  • Kors went bankrupt in the 90s. His brand is now a publicly traded company.
  • The designer's husband was once a Kors intern.
  • Lazaro Hernandez from Proenza Schouler was a former Kors intern per Anna Wintour's recommendation. Peter Som was also a former intern.
  • Kors: "I was a boy wearing Opium, which was unfortunate."
    Mallis: "Better than smoking it."
  • Angie Harmon was Kors' first fit model and remains a friend. A lot of the designer's fit models have turned out to be Victoria's Secret models. "I love beautiful, happy, upbeat people."
  • Kors on the effect of Project Runway on his business: "Suddenly, I have 12-year-old customers!"
  • Since the designer is now reaching younger customers, he has created a shoe that he considers "the training wheels for high heels."
  • The designer writes all the press releases for his fashion shows.
  • Kors had pizza and went to see The Help in East Hampton on his wedding day.
  • When Michael Kors went public, it was valued at $3.5 billion.
  • Kors on how well his company did on the opening day of its IPO: "It sure beat my bar mitzvah!"
  • Kors has 231 stores in 71 countries and he's sold in 18,000 stores in the US.
  • "Cooking? In New York? Never. Neeeevvvveeer."
  • Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang are two brands that Kors is impressed with.
  • Advice for aspiring designers: "Spend some time in stores to see how people shop [...] think about what you can add to the fashion picture."

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