“From the very beginning, I was convinced you could be sexy and sporty at the same time,” Michael Kors told Women’s Wear Daily in March 2011, on the occasion of his company’s 30th anniversary. The king of American "jet-set" sportswear has turned his conviction into a multi-billion dollar company and positioned himself at the very centre of New York's fashion scene.
Michael Kors Holdings went public in 2011, to date the company’s share price has tripled making Michael Kors one of the dominant players in the ‘affordable luxury’ market. The company currently has over 400 stores in 89 countries, with flagships in New York, London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Dubai and Istanbul.
Michael Kors’ interest in fashion began at a young age. As a five-year-old, the future designer advised his mother on her wedding dress. The designer went on to open his own boutique, which he named Iron Butterfly, selling clothes he had customised or designed himself. Kors moved to New York in 1977 and enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, though he left the school after nine months to take a job at Lothar’s, the trendsetting boutique on New York’s West 57th Street.
He began his own label in earnest in 1981, with Lothar’s as his first customer; the first Michael Kors Collection runway show was held for the Autumn/Winter 1984 season. In its review, WWD judged it a “collection of haute, classic sportswear” and “elegant but minimal dressing.”
Other fashion editors affectionately remember the smell of wet-paint, after Kors, unhappy with the green wall colour repainted the venue space the night before his show. An immediate hit, Kors’ collection was bought by Bloomingdales, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue.
In 1997, Kors was named the first-ever women's ready-to-wear designer and creative director of Céline, where he helped to turn the French fashion house around with successful accessories and a critically acclaimed ready-to-wear line, before leaving in October 2003 to concentrate on his own brand.
Kors launched his menswear line in 2002. In addition to the Michael Kors runway collection, the MICHAEL Michael Kors and KORS Michael Kors lines were launched in 2004.
Thanks to his witty one-liners, Kors garnered wide international fame during his 10 season stint as a judge on the popular American television series "Project Runway," from 2004 to 2012.
Kors has been the recipient of numerous industry awards including The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Womenswear Designer of the Year in 1999 and Menswear Designer of the Year in 2003. In 2010, the CFDA awarded Kors their most prestigious honour, the Lifetime Achievement Award.