News & Runway

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Michael Kors

Kors RF15 0888

Image: Imaxtree

As one of the first boldface names in 2004 to get on board with reality television, Michael Kors is certainly not one to shy away from the camera. He’s not, after all, at the helm of a billion-dollar lifestyle empire for having a subdued point of view. With Donna Karan’s retirement, he remains one of the few American superstar designers still actively working and interest in his work seems stronger than ever. Kors may not be shy about voicing his opinion, but that doesn’t mean he’s always an open book. Here’s a look at 10 things you may not have known about the designer, who’s now in his third decade of business. 

  1. His mother was a model and he was an aspiring child actor. In speaking with Fern Mallis at the 92Y, he explained, “We would come into New York City together. My mother would actually put me in a taxi with a slip of paper with the address of where my go-see was and I would go meet my agent. I was five or six. Today that would be on the front page of the Post — ‘Child Abuser.’ I remember one go-see where there was this army of blonde six-year-old boys. I was with my agent. My mom walked in and said, ‘This is a cattle call.’ Like my son is not doing cattle calls, and we quickly turned on our heels and left.”
  2. It’s not necessarily about your look being easy, but it’s about it looking easy. “I think the trick is, how do you spend time doing it but make it look like you haven’t spent time doing it? Over the years you look at women like Lauren Hutton and everyone says: ‘She just pulled her hair back and ran out of the door.’ I’ve been in fittings with Lauren and she definitely thinks about it. She just knows how to make it look easy,” Kors told Vogue U.K.
  3. Kors isn’t all caviar and champagne. When talking about his marriage to Lance LePere he said, “We’re probably the only people who got married on the beach, jumped in a Jeep, went to East Hampton, had pizza at Sam’s and went to see The Help.”
  4. One of the key things that catapulted Kors into fashion stardom is that he showed that women could be glamorous without looking completely done up. In tandem with that, when explaining to Lauren Hutton what he thinks has changed most in fashion, he noted that in the 90s “if you were American, there used to be no thought that a French woman might wear your clothes. Fashion was very segmented by country. It was also very specific by age. How you were supposed to dress in your twenties, thirties—that’s gone.” Crop tops for everyone!
  5. The designer was interested in fashion from a very young age. In fact, he styled his mother’s wedding dress for her marriage to his stepfather when he was just 5 years old. “I grew up in a family of people who were obsessed with fashion,” Kors told Harper’s Bazaar. He would often go with his grandmother on buying trips to Loehmann’s Back Room, which he said was like a sport. When asked to describe his grandfather, Kors noted that he was a dandy. “If you said to him, ‘What do you want to do on Saturday, go to a baseball game?’ He would say, ‘No, do you want to come with me? I have a fitting at the tailor.'”
  6. A key to commercial success is understanding the needs of real women, something Kors has seemingly always understood without sacrificing his place in high fashion. In an interview with restaurateur Danny Meyer he explained, “Listen, everyone works differently. But I genuinely like people, and I love the whole theater of shopping. But I understand both sides of the coin. I love fashion. But I’m also empathetic to how real people live. I love going to Chicago to see how people dress there. Most fashion people live in their own little box. But I get it when real people say: Sorry, I’m not wearing moon boots to work.”
  7. The designer has fond memories of his bar mitzvah, telling ELLE that it was “a big moment for me! My aunt wore a bra and hip-huger bell bottoms. My grandmother was shocked. I thought she was just fabulous. She was Cher. My mother was Jane Fonda, my grandma was Elizabeth Taylor. As for myself, I wore a chocolate brown and white pattern shirt with a huge collar and a camel jacket – I still love camel!”
  8. Kors dropped out of FIT at the age of 19 to work full-time at Lothar’s, a once popular New York City boutique. Kors soon started designing for the store.
  9. One of his favorite “Michael Kors stories,” according to Vanity Fair, is from when he began working as creative director of Celine in the late 90s. “’I’m walking down the Avenue Montaigne and I see a girl across the street. Long hair blowing, gray flannels, peacoat, cashmere turtleneck, aviators [all of them Kors staples]. I was like, Oh my God, I changed French fashion in one season! And I see her coming towards me …’  His voice falls to a flat, disappointed drone. ‘And it’s her.’ He’s glaring pointedly at designer Aerin Lauder, across the table. ‘I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s you. Oh my God, I’m so depressed.'”
  10. Kors loves sunglasses. In fact, he was often filmed wearing them indoors on Project Runway, which explains why he has a collection of over 100 pairs, all of which he keeps within reach at his home. “I think anything that gives someone a personal sense of style, but at the same time is functional, is perfection,” he has said.