Fashion success is often fleeting. Rattle lists popular designer names from the 1980s – when Michael Kors started – and few would be recognizable to the average industry obsessive, let alone a consumer.
Success didn’t come quickly or easily for Michael Kors, but it did, and in large numbers, culminating in a $ 3.6 billion IPO in 2011 that made him, and many of his colleagues, very wealthy. And yet, looking back on his 40 years in the business, the end result isn’t the most impressive. It is his process as a designer.
To celebrate that 40th anniversary milestone, Kors, once the showman, hosted a catwalk extravaganza on the streets of Midtown, lit by theater tents. still a pandemic – and for thousands of fans who wish they could. Classic models from Kors, including Shalom Harlow – with a late-stage performance from Naomi Campbell – smoothed out their sides and saunter in fluffy robe-style coats. His frequent collaborator, Rufus Wainwright, accompanied the performance with renditions of “A New York State of Mind” and “There No Business Like Show Business,” among other classics.
His first legit retrospective, the collection was envisioned for a post-Zoom world, all sleek and shiny with high heels and geometric clutches, its signature gold sequins on the inside of a camel wool coat – another feature. (“I must have designed a thousand,” he said during a preview on Monday.) A crunchy lipstick red coat, first shown in 1991 on Cindy Crawford – when a single glance garnered applause – will be tagged with a QR code, which the wearer can scan to learn the whole backstory of Kors himself.
In retrospect, the designer’s oeuvre was perfectly reflected in the looks worn by Rene Russo in the 1999 remake Thomas Crown Affair, and many pieces in this collection are a wonderful extension of that celluloid fantasy, from a form-fitting sequined turtleneck sweater to a three-piece suit with glen plaid.
But while there were references to the past, the individual pieces also reflected the positioning the brand has been working on over the years, trying to take the spotlight away from the cheaper collections that are more accessible to the masses for the luxury. pieces that Kors designs to sell the dream. Logo bags may be selling like hot cakes at the moment, but he chose to show off discreet little things that he said are made in Italy from the finest materials.
Kors said his brand is defined by the “yin and yang between indulgence and glamor, simplicity and convenience,” but I’d say it’s deeper than that, based on a special understanding and appreciation for the person he’s dressing.
Many designers put themselves first. Not Kors, who spent part of the pandemic hosting virtual trunk shows.
“Since the beginning of my career, I have always thought that one of my best traits was understanding women and how they live life,” he said. “If what I’m designing doesn’t work in real life, I think it’s losing all of its power.”
You see, it’s not about him. And that’s why it is all about him. He has earned it.