Micheal Kors’ designs embody New York style perhaps more than anyone. Preppy, pretty, pristine, but also fun and glamorous rather than po-faced, he started his label in 1981 and has built a loyal following over his thirty year career; an eclectic bunch of celebrities, public figures and private individuals including loyal fans who buy into his entire collections each season.
The jovial New Yorker invited Grazia Daily to Claridges to peruse his latest venture – a makeup and fragrance collection – and permitted us to ask some of our nosiest questions, about his influences past and present, his attitude to the press and what on earth we should be wearing this autumn...
Grazia Daily: You’ve dressed and hung out with some of the most glamorous women ever during your long career in fashion, which famous beauty who epitomizes each era for you?
Michael Kors: To me, the quintessential Seventies beauty is Lauren Hutton. It’s her style too, and her easiness. She takes the stuffing out of it you know? She was like the Seventies pre-curser to Kate Moss. The Eighties was all about power – and the supermodels. You know Christy Turlington and Cindy Crawford. The of Cindy Crawford’s muscular arm and curvy body – all about power. Then in the Nineties it was the waify aesthetic. Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, that idea of simplicity - Winona Ryder, low key, low maintenance the opposite of what came before. Then the pendulum swings and it’s the opposite. I think of Jennifer Lopez and Beyonce, people who want to make a big statement and who are very deliberate about it. The next thing will be completely different. It's too early to see who'll be the face of this decade.
Grazia Daily: Tell us about the range – what was the starting point?
Michael Kors: It was a re-assessment of all my work. I ended up going through my archive of years and years when I won a CFDA Award for lifetime achievement a year ago. We realised that all the designs were moods; either relaxed and sporty, incredibly glamorous or very confident and sexy – or frankly, a blending of the three. So I thought I would approach the collection as moods. Rather than trying to be makeup experts – I thought; what changes your mood and transforms you? With lipstick it’s going from a nude mouth to a Bordeaux mouth - the equivalent of going from a flat shoe to a stiletto to a boot. The Sporty pieces are very sheer, nude and light. The Glam collection is deep, rich colours and the Sexy ones are bright and eye-catching.
Grazia Daily: What was most fun to create – the products themselves or the packaging?
Michael Kors: It all goes together. It’s all fun. The packaging is fun, I’m a believer that it should be so beautiful that you don’t want to keep it in the bathroom, you want to take the compact out all the time in the restaurant and show it off. I mean if you’ve gotta use it you want it to be beautiful.
Grazia Daily: Tell us something about the fragrance . . . how did you develop the three scents?
Michael Kors: the minute you spray something jasmine you’re somewhere tropical, the minute you spray amber you’re in a club at 3am and the minute you spray citrus you’re fresh and clean getting off a boat. Going back to the three different moods, as well we decided to name the fragrances Sporty, Sexy and Glam because I didn’t want to call them, ‘Je Ne Sais Quois’, or ‘Summer Moments’ you know? I wanted to be straightforward.
Grazia Daily: You’ve recently featured in an in-depth profile in Vanity Fair. What is the experience of that like?
Michael Kors: It’s hard for me to think about my career, my life and sum it up myself. So to create the piece we set up a lunch with all these amazing women -from Patti Hansen and Iman, Aerin Lauder and Sigourney Weaver and Debra Messing, who all know me very well. In the event I sat back and allowed them to talk about me and let them sum it up between them. I’m a working designer, I’m onto the next thing, I don’t have a lot of time for self-reflection so when you do something like that you get a pause for air, and get to reflect a little more.
Grazia Daily: Do you like being interviewed?
Micheal Kors: I mainly like talking to people – whether that’s a journalist or a client or someone else I like to find out what people are into and what’s going on in the world. Or else how to you know? The worst possible thing for a designer to do would be to lock themselves away in the studio and not get out, see people, interact with them and do normal things.
Grazia Daily: If you were a girl, and you could only wear one outfit this autumn, like a uniform – what would it be?
Michael Kors: Oh my gosh! Well here’s the thing – I think a really sexy man’s trouser suit. In black. You could wear the jacket with some cool sweatpants and high heels and you could wear the trousers with a mini T-shirt. I think you’ll look great running around in that and I think men are really turned on by that look because they love it if you look like you stole it off them and you look sexy in it.
Grazia Daily: Who are your favourite models at the moment? And have you got a top tip for someone you think is about to get really big, but we might not have heard of yet?
Michael Kors: Karmen Pedaru (above) - and not just because she's the face of the campaign, but because I love her. She's a chameleon, she could be playing basketball in sneakers one minute and the next be charming you in eveningwear. Malaika Firth is also great, and anyone from Estonia - I'm Estonian-obsessed. Oh and Vanessa Axente who's actually from Hungary.