Designers. Michael Kors: Fashion Disaster? Second City Style Fashion Blog

April 13, 2007 • Fashion

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What would we do if anything happened to one of our favorite Project Runway judges? And how would NYC’s socialites do without his classically-styled ensembles? Luckily, these questions can continue to evade us a bit longer because Michael Kors made it through his near-tragic traffic accident in Toronto. Read on from the The Star for the full story. Bernadette Morra Fashion Editor Michael Kors got more excitement than he bargained for on a visit to Toronto last week. "We had a fender bender on the way here from the television studio," explained Kors, safe and sound at Holt Renfrew’s Bloor St. flagship shortly after. The accident occurred after an early morning appearance on Canada AM, leaving the New York-based designer and his PR team stranded in the middle lanes of Highway 401 until another car could retrieve them. Two hours later, the group was still shaken from having to exit the damaged car with vehicles whizzing by on either side. "It’s always something," sighed Kors, a 26-year veteran of the trunk show circuit, where the next season’s entire collection is taken on tour so top customers can place their orders. "I did a trunk show in Oklahoma once with no clothes," he chuckled, recalling a shipment that never arrived. "I sat with the customers and watched the video of the show saying, `that’s cute. That’s cute.’ I sold $100,000. In Tulsa. With no clothes." The stellar salesmanship would be testament to Kors’ sparkling personality, one that helped propel him from a 19-year-old with a knack for chic, luxurious American sportswear to a one-man conglomerate with numerous men’s and women’s collections, licences for eyewear, shoes, watches and handbags, and fragrance and beauty products. There are Michael Kors flagships on Madison Ave. and Rodeo Dr., and international boutiques in Hong Kong and Dubai. A string of Michael Kors lifestyle stores with all of Kors’ products under one roof have opened in the U.S., with the first Canadian locations opening soon in Vancouver and Montreal. The website opened for e-commerce last year. And Kors has been a popular judge on the reality show Project Runway. The Kors charm also helped win over a dozen of Holt’s top clients at an exclusive lunch and fashion show. While the ladies tucked into roast chicken and couscous, models roamed by in an electric blue sheath, a fur-trimmed cocoon dress, and a floor-length swathe of brown jersey splattered with clear beads. The menu catered to the finicky Kors palate. "I think because I am an only child I was totally indulged," commented Kors, nursing an ice tea in a private shopping suite prior to the lunch. "My mother never said, `you have to eat this.’ I don’t eat eggs or tuna. I don’t drink hot liquids. And I’m always hot so I never wear socks. If I wear socks, I feel choked." Even on this unseasonably frigid day, his bare ankles are visible above black patent Tods moccasins. "They go both ways – black tie and snow," he quipped. "That’s another thing I have learned doing trunk shows. Women in Chicago wear Manolo heels in winter. I ask them, where are your mukluks? But they swear by old patent leather and they just Windex it. You learn something in every city." So what has he learned on his visits to Canada? "The colder the city, the more warm weather clothes we sell," he marvelled. "People need to escape south. The biggest suburb of Toronto is Palm Beach. So we sell a lot of beachy lightweight clothes here." The car accident isn’t the only reminder of mortality that Kors has had lately. He recently had a basal cell carcinoma sliced out of his forehead. "After a lifetime of laying in the sun, I’ve learned my lesson," he declared, acknowledging the inch wide scar near his hairline. "I’ve cooked my whole life at the beach. "People have always told me, `you have blond hair and blue eyes. You have to be careful.’ I never listened." Now he says he will be turning to close friend Aerin Lauder, senior vice-president of global creative for , for tips on how to fake bake. "I have never self-tanned but I am going to have to join the ranks," Kors said. "Aerin will put me in touch with a good self-tanner. We’ve all seen those women who look like a tandoori chicken. It’s not a good look." The patience required for the safe, perpetual tan could prove to be a challenge for a 46-year-old who admits to suffering somewhat from Attention Deficient Disorder. His frenetic New York runway shows, where masses of models burst onto the catwalk and race through 12 minutes of the next season’s men’s and women’s wear, seem to be a reflection of that. "I have a short attention span," Kors admitted. "And I am a bundle of contradictions. I am analytical but casual; indulgent but relaxed. My shows are over-the-top luxe but fun." It’s a formula embraced by a wide variety of women – from conservative chartered accountants to attention-seeking stars. "We’re astounded by the mix of celebrities who wear our clothes – from Mary J. Blige to Barbara Walters," Kors remarked. "But they are all strong, powerful and opinionated. She’s a diva and he rules the world," he said of his customers of both genders. "But they’re nice people." Kors is currently helping New York society get dressed for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute ball on May 7. "Events and awards shows become like a whole other season," noted Kors. No wonder some, like fellow New York designer Marc Jacobs who recently re-entered rehab, fall into unhealthy behaviours. "You have to get out of fashion and turn fashion off," Kors advised. "I go to movies and theatre a lot. It takes me somewhere else. Travel energizes me, too." The three P’s – Phuket, Parrot Cay and Palm Beach – are favourite beach escapes for Kors, though he adds he will now be taking cover under an umbrella. He often unwinds at his home on Water Island, off Long Island where he grew up. "There are 28 houses and no roads, no cars, no restaurants," he says. "So when I go there I do normal things, like cook. I was on Martha Stewart’s show and I made spaghetti and meatballs. She couldn’t believe it. But in this business, you have to force yourself to slow down. If you don’t, you can find yourself in a sticky situation." –Joanne Molina for Second City Style

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