Friday 2nd September

| BY 10Magazine

MICHAEL KORS: TEN INSTANTLY

FROM THE VAULT (SUMMER 2011)

Three decades in the business is something to celebrate, so Michael Kors did – in style. Something that Michael Kors is all about. Our favourite fashion news hound Derek Blasberg caught up with him after the music stopped to run through the highlights, both of the festivities and thirty years in the business…

TEN: “MICHAEL, I HAVEN’T SEEN YOU SINCE YOUR PARTY AT THE AMBASSADOR’S HOUSE IN PARIS.”

MK: “Yes, my 30th anniversary, which I’m referring to as my birthday now. Wasn’t it fabulous?”

TEN: “EPIC IS THE WORD I’D USE TO DESCRIBE IT. HOW HAVE YOU RECOVERED?”

MK: “I always liken a show or a big party to someone who performs on stage, like a musician or a singer or an actor. Backstage after a concert I’m always amazed that a singer is still all hopped and pumped up. I’d think after a show they’d be so exhausted, but they’re like, ‘Sit down and chat and have a drink. Let’s have a chat!’ They’re not tired at all because the adrenaline is still pumping. A fashion show is like that, too.”

TEN: “BUT THIS SEASON WAS MUCH MORE THAN JUST A SHOW. YOU WERE ALL OVER THE PLACE, WITH PARTIES IN NEW YORK, OPENING A STORE IN LONDON, AND THEN THAT PARIS EXTRAVAGANZA.”

MK: “It was all about trifectas. First, three fabulous divas – Bette Midler singing to me at the show in New York, then Judy Davis singing to me that night, and then Mary J Blige in Paris. Three stores, too – the new Madison Avenue store opening, the Regent Street store [London], and then the biggest one opening in Paris. And then three decades in business. It’s all about threes!”

TEN: “AND YOU’RE NOT TIRED?”

MK: “I remember, when I was a kid, I’d read about a designer, someone like YSL, who after their show they would have a nervous breakdown and be whisked away to Marrakech to recuperate and be fed dates. At the time, I was thought that sounded divine. I wanted to do that! But the simple truth is that we’re on to the next season, or shooting the campaign, or working on another concept. Work doesn’t stop, even for a minute…”

TEN: “DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING THROUGH THE ANNIVERSARY?”

MK: “It proved that to be successful in this business you have to be authentic to who are as a designer. And you can’t be authentic to who you are as a designer unless you are authentic to who you are as a person. My show this season was, without sounding egotistical, very Michael Kors. The music was very Michael Kors, and the casting was very Michael Kors, and the parties were very Michael Kors.”

TEN: “AND THE PARTIES WERE VERY MICHAEL KORS TOO. CHIC, SOPHISTICATED, WELL DONE. MY FAVOURITE WAS THE EVENT IN PARIS – COCKTAILS, DINNER, A PRIVATE CONCERT WITH MARY J BLIGE, AND THEN YOU’RE HOME BEFORE MIDNIGHT. VERY CIVILISED.”

MK: “Well, if you read the papers now, you’ll know that everyone has ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder]. Certainly when I was in my twenties and thirties, I always had a lot of energy and a short attention span. So I’ve always thought, when you throw a party, you have to keep it moving. To be honest, I can’t even watch live television anymore. I need it to be edited down, and be able to fast-forward through commercials. Derek, I live for RuPaul’s Drag Race, but I don’t need to see them in the workroom. I want to fast-forward until I can watch them lip-sync for their lives.”

TEN: “HA! I WISH ALL PARTIES WERE LIKE RUPAUL’S DRAG RACE.”

MK: “The same thing with a fashion show – edit, edit, edit. Doing Project Runway turned me into an editor for the first time. I’m not used to sitting at a fashion show, and seeing what comes down the runway. Can you believe I used to do shows with 85 looks? Looking back now, I can tell you it was weird. You’d be backstage and ask yourself, is it still going on? A model would come up with another look and I would say, ‘You again?’”

TEN: “WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON REALITY TELEVISION?”

MK: “I’ve been involved with reality television now for eight years, and let me tell you, it ain’t so easy. I’m not sitting up there with a script. You have to be good at this. And shows like the Kardashians are the new the sitcoms. Remember those kooky shows, like I Dream of Jeannie and Gilligan’s Island and all that garbage. I don’t think anyone thought the people in those shows were serious actresses. Like, ‘Barbara Eden, isn’t she so serious?’ No way. The reality was that to be that kind of character is a talent, just as today it’s a talent to be NeNe Leakes on The Real Housewives of Atlanta. You have to be able to captivate people. It’s so easy to get people’s attention these days, but can you keep it? That pertains to everyone, to actors, to designers, to everyone.”

TEN: “MICHAEL, KEEPING SOMEONE’S ATTENTION FOR 30 YEARS IN THIS BUSINESS ISN’T EASY. WE HAVE SOME FRIENDS IN COMMON, AND A FEW OF THEM HAVE GIVEN ME VARIOUS REASONS WHY YOU’VE LASTED SO LONG – SOME SAY IT’S THE DOUBLE-FACED CASHMERE, OR THE SEX APPEAL, AND OTHERS SAY IT’S YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR – BUT WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’VE BEEN SO SUCCESSFUL FOR SO LONG?”

MK: “It’s another trifecta – comfortable, sexiness, sense of humour. See, it’s all about the threes! Ultimately, I don’t think when you get dressed you have to give up anything. For a while, there was this idea to be deadly chic meant you couldn’t have a sense of humour. And it went the same way – if someone was funny, it was campy, and it wasn’t smart. I think you can be funny, chic, smart, sexy and comfortable, and I’m relentless in thinking all of that.”

TEN: “THE KORS MANTRA.”

MK: “For me, it’s about a dichotomy – deadly chic but funny. I’m a Swedish Jewish person, so it’s a very strange mix.”

TEN: “WHAT ARE YOU THINKING ABOUT WHEN YOU DESIGN?”

MK: “I’m always asking myself how to feel glamorous without being stuffy. If you treat things as decadent or indulgent, they lose that quality. I can remember, years ago, I was going away for Christmas and the day before I was leaving I got a huge tin of caviar from Fabien Baron for Christmas, like a ridiculously huge tin. So I called him to thank him and told him it was going to spoil, and he told me to just invite some people over and hurry up and eat it. So I did, and I served it on matzah. It was divine. I think when you’re in this incredibly glamorous setting you want beautiful people and the right lighting, but you don’t want it to be stiff and uptight and feel like it’s a fancy affair.”

TEN: “YOU WANT NONCHALANCE.”

MK: “Exactly, and it’s the same thing with clothes –you can be the most fabulous girl on the red carpet and have a 20ft train on the back of your dress, but you should wear the whole thing like a T-shirt. If you have to be tugging and pulling and hoisting it up, something is wrong. The illusion is gone.”

TEN: “TELL ME, WHAT’S GOING THROUGH YOUR HEAD WHEN YOU’RE AT THE AMBASSADOR’S RESIDENCE IN PARIS AND MARY J BLIGE IS SINGING TO YOU?”

MK: “It’s totally an out-of-body experience! Whenever I hear a designer moan and groan – and I moan and groan, too, so I’m not saying I don’t do this – I feel so unbelievably blessed that I knew what I wanted to do early, and that I was successful at it. At the end of the day, when someone gets dressed and they look good, you did that. So I know it’s not a cure for cancer, no it’s not, but it does help people. And that you get the access to see and meet these people, I’m so happy with what we’ve done.”

TEN: “YOU ONCE TOLD ME ABOUT YOUR IDEA OF ‘FASHION FAMOUS’ AND I THINK IT’S MARVELLOUS.”

MK: “‘Fashion fame’ allows you to meet people like Mary J Blige, but not have to worry about leaving your house and having 100 photographers chase you. So, to be in the presence of someone who is truly that gifted is an honour.”

TEN: “YOU HAVE MET THEM ALL, HAVEN’T YOU?”

MK: “Yes. I mean, I met Elizabeth Taylor! It’s mind blowing! I have met my icons. To sit down with Elizabeth Taylor and ask her which of her wedding dresses was her favourite… I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”

TEN: “WHAT DID SHE SAY TO THAT QUESTION?”

MK: “She told me each dress was different because each husband was so different. She always knew what to say. Once I explained to her that I thought women today either get dressed to impress other women or to impress men, and a few dress just for themselves. I asked her who she dressed for and she told me, ‘I’m Elizabeth Taylor.’ And I asked what that means, and she said, ‘Atomically, other women won’t like me, so I never try and win a woman over by what I’m wearing. I’ve dressed for men my entire life. And I’ve dressed differently according to the man.’”

TEN: “SHE WAS SO DIVINE.”

MK: “Same thing with Bette Midler, who I have known for a long time now. One day I told her that when I was a kid I wanted to be just like her – smart and funny and talented and all good things. And she looked at me and she said, ‘Well, now you are! You just can’t sing and dance.’ The access, and not just to famous people, that this industry provides is truly phenomenal.”

TEN: “I AGREE WITH YOU COMPLETELY. YOU GOT ME INTO THE PRIVATE RESIDENCE OF THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR. I CAN’T SAY THAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED OTHERWISE.”

MK: “It was my fashion fairy-tale moment, absolutely. Still, no matter how much time I spend in Paris, it’s still amazing every time. Instantly, as soon as I get there, I feel like Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face! So, to walk into the ambassador’s residence, with my mom, with [my partner] Lance [Le Pere]… it felt like I was in a movie.”

TEN: “WELL YOU SHOULD. YOU’RE PRACTICALLY A MOVIE STAR NOW, MICHAEL.”

MK: “That’s not hard nowadays. I think we live in a world today where anyone can think they’re on a red carpet at all times. You can work at Starbucks and feel like you’re on the red carpet because you’re taking pictures of yourself and putting them on the internet and saying, ‘Ohmigod, I look fabulous.’ If you think about Liz Taylor, she’s kind of the last star of that era. The only other woman left of that era is Lauren Bacall. But the funny thing is, no matter how much times have changed, everyone is still craving Liz Taylor. Everyone says look how the world has changed, but everyone is chanelling Liz Taylor or Ali MacGraw or Lauren Hutton.”

TEN: “THOSE ARE YOUR ICONS. YOUR CLASSIC AMERICANA.”

MK: “One time, someone asked me what I think about really crazy, quirky clothes. And I said I thought they were interesting, and that I like to see them on a mannequin at a museum, but realistically, a truly interesting person doesn’t need to wear something that interesting. Whenever you saw Liz Taylor you didn’t care what she was wearing – it was Liz Taylor. When someone is wearing Michael Kors I want them to feel like the best version of themselves.”

www.michaelkors.com

by Derek Blasberg