From the beginning, Michael Kors has understood the key to success is to have a consistent point of view but at the same time to constantly evolve and experiment. Kors experienced his first "fashion moment" when he advised his mother on her wedding dress at the tender age of 5 years old and since then has never looked back. He moved to Manhattan at 18 to attend F.I.T. and at 19 Kors started working for Lothar's, a boutique on New York's 57th Street, and was soon running design, sales, and window displays. Discovered by Dawn Mello at the age of 21, then Fashion Director at Bergdorf Goodman, Michael Kors launched his namesake collection in 1981 and has been at Bergdorf Goodman ever since. His connection to Studio 54 in the 70's and his love for pop culture throughout the years has influenced his style and point of view along the way.
As one of America's most prominent designers, Michael is excited to share with the next generation of fashionistas his journey on how it all started. Since the days he began in retail, Kors has never lost his innate sense of enthusiasm and it is no secret that his positive attitude and his aptitude to understand what women want has helped in building his global company that is valued worldwide. His authentic attitude has allowed for him to consistently provide his clients with a sexy, chic, polished, but relaxed timeless style. Kors is also internationally-recognizable since joining the award-winning reality series "Project Runway" and has been acknowledged by his peers in the fashion industry with multiple prestigious awards. The CFDA has honored him numerous times, most recently with a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2010. Michael has always been a supporter of emerging talent and is thrilled to engage with the future of fashion at TEEN VOGUE's Fashion University.
"From the very beginning, I was convinced you could be sexy and sporty at the same time." -- Michael Kors, Women's Wear Daily, March 2011, on the occasion of his company's 30th anniversary
It would be a mistake to assume the seemingly casual attitude Michael Kors the man prefers in his personal style (a uniform of jeans, a black tee and jacket and distressed leather bag) reflects the same attitude Michael Kors the designer takes toward his business. With a laser-sharp focus on providing his customers with accessories and clothes that are consistently the epitome of a polished, chic, relaxed -- and yes, sexy-sporty -- glamour, Michael Kors has created an enduring and iconic luxury lifestyle empire with a distinctive point of view and global reach.
Raised in Merrick, Long Island, a suburban town 23 miles from New York City, Michael Kors experienced his first major design success at the age of five when he advised his mother, Joan, on her wedding dress for her second marriage. Kors went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan, where he studied fashion design. Kors left school to start his own label in 1981, following accolades for his work for Lothar's, the then-trendsetting boutique on New York's West 57th Street. The first Michael Kors Collection runway show was held for the fall 1984 season; in its review, WWD referenced his "collection of haute classic sportswear" and "elegant but minimal dressing."
As he continued to build his own designer business, from 1998 to 2004 Kors also served as creative director of Celine, the renowned French luxury brand. He is credited with restoring its former luster as one of the major European fashion houses.
Michael Kors' New York City-based company has seen explosive growth beyond its ready-to-wear roots to its current status as a major design house in the luxury accessories arena (comprising handbags, footwear, sunglasses, watches and jewelry) under the Michael Kors, KORS and MICHAEL Michael Kors labels. By the end of 2011, the company will have over 200 stores in 74 countries globally with Flagships in the world's most glamorous cities including New York, London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Dubai and Istanbul.
Kors has been the recipient of numerous industry awards including the The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), Womenswear Designer of the Year in 1999 and Menswear Designer of the Year in 2003. Amongst his other accolades, Kors has also been awarded The Accessories Council ACE Award for Designer of the Year in 2006 and Fashion Group International's Star Honoree at its annual Night of Stars Awards in 2009. In 2010, the CFDA acknowledged Kors with their most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by American Vogue, Editor in Chief, Anna Wintour. He also received the Award of Courage from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) in 2011. In addition to all of these accomplishments, Kors has also been a judge on the Emmy nominated show Project Runway since 2004 which is syndicated internationally.
American fashion icon Michael Kors offers advice to aspiring designers looking to get their start in the industry. Rather than following fickle fashion trends, he says, designers should focus on simply helping people "look good."