Michael Kors Highlights 36-Year Fashion Career at Met

During “The Atelier With Alina Cho,” Michael Kors discussed the importance of Asia, his new fall ad campaign, having First Lady Melania Trump as a customer and helping to provide millions of meals for the underprivileged.

 

Michael Kors, Alina Cho

and helping to provide millions of meals for the underprivileged.

By Rosemary Feitelberg on June 22, 2017
Michael Kors, Alina Cho

Michael Kors and Alina Cho were interrupted by animal rights activists early on in their discussion Wednesday night at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, but neither was about to let the protesters ruin the night.

One minute the designer was talking about giving his likeness “a cute backside” in a resort print and moments later he was encircled by demonstrators chanting about his use of fur. But Cho and Kors kept their cool. Once order was restored, after a short break, they returned to the stage to discuss his career. After the fact, Kors said of his intrepidness, “Listen, I had the ceiling fall during a runway show and hit Suzy Menkes on the head, and the show went on.”

Kors’ priority is his shoppers. “I always say that I make the frame so that the women who wear the clothes are the picture,” he explained. Here, are a few of the highlights.

The company’s recent decision to close 100 stores
“We all have to remember that nothing is ever going to compete with the rush, the rustle of the tissue paper, the shopping bag — you can’t give that up. We just did a trunk show in Chicago. You’re showing clothes to women who have seen them on their phones. It’s not quite the same thing. It’s a matter of how all of this works together how you shop online on your phone, on your laptop, in a store.”

Giving back with God’s Love We Deliver and the U.N. World Food Program Watch Hunger Stop 
“We live a very fast life in New York. A lot of people are very privileged. I tell everyone, ‘Go deliver a meal. It will change your world.’”

Why is Asia so important to everyone’s business?
“Everyone has to remember the best word in fashion is ‘curiosity,’ so if you have a customer who is excited, inspired, enthused and curious isn’t that the best business opportunity? Now we’ve seen there is less variance from region to region. Maybe we sell more boots in Moscow or more sandals in Singapore, but our customer travels and they actually have a very similar point of view.”

Sizing up Mario Testino’s shots of Edie Campbell in the new fall campaign
“I love that she’s so chic and so bored. What’s amazing though in fashion, a lot of people think fashion has to be sad and dour. And it can never be happy or, God forbid, wearable. Mario and I both love joy, energy, luxury and glamour. Sometimes I hear people say, ‘Oh, I’m going to wear that for special occasions.’ I’m like, ‘Your life is a special occasion. Wear your damn beaded dress with a sweatshirt over it.’ Enjoy the things you own.”

His view of the Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons exhibit
“Mind boggling. When you see the breadth of her work, it’s remarkable. Everyone says they wear Comme des Garçons T-shirts or cute sneakers, but then you look at these pieces that certainly were never designed to be worn or packed. I mean packable? It’s not walkable or sittable. Here’s a designer who’s not thinking of that when she’s creating these things. She’s really creating in a very different sphere.”

Walking the red carpet and dressing Kerry Washington for this year’s Met Gala
“Torture — the stairs freak me out. They seem endless. When I talk to celebrities who have walked the red carpet a zillion times, they say they still get nervous. Kerry had just had a baby and I said, ‘You want everyone to see how remarkable the bod is looking….Right before we were about to get into the car, I asked her, ‘Are you wearing commando briefs?’ She said yeah. I said, ‘You’ve got to switch your underwear.’ So we switched everything and sewed her underwear to the dress at the last minute literally on our way. That’s the ultimate couture attention.”

Melania Trump wearing Michael Kors
“She’s been a customer of ours for a long time. What we have to remember is that my favorite customers are opinionated. They know what works on them, what’s right for them….The simple truth is if I do my job well we have customers who are 17 and who are 90, customers who are size zero and size 22. So I don’t think it’s a political thing.”

Securing the largest IPO for a fashion company in 2011
“When I first started in fashion, American fashion was for America. The reality is if you have been doing something for a long time and can still stay curious, that is the greatest thing as a human being. And certainly to do what you love. But I think it says a lot about American fashion and how potent American style is globally.”

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