Michael Kors took to the stage at 92Y in the latest edition of Fashion Conversations with Fern Mallis last week. Here, some highlights from the far-ranging conversation with the designer born Karl Anderson, Jr. (he changed his name to Michael at age five), who Mallis dubbed “the funniest man in fashion”:
On being a Leo:
I think if you’re a Leo you’re definitely not shy, you’re definitely opinionated. I’m a summer baby. I’m a beach boy at heart.
On the origin of his aesthetic:
My mom is very understated, very sporty, loves clean lines. She’s really for the most part about solid colors and neutrals. My grandmother was an explosion of print, color, jewelry. She loved all of it. And in a strange way, being a little boy at the time – with the paparazzi shots of Liz Taylor and Jackie Kennedy – I think my aesthetic is a blend of the two. I love glamour and indulgence but at the same time I love simplicity. That yin-yang is something that started early for me.
On opening a shop called The Iron Butterfly Boutique in his basement at age 11:
I was pretty crafty. I made fabulous candles, whip-stitched leather bags, hammered copper bracelets. I had a girl up the street who knew how to crochet, so we made snoods. I invited all the kids from the neighborhood to come over and we sold everything in a week. Oh, the rush!
On dropping out of FIT:
I got to school and I had been sketching since I was really small, and had such firm ideas about what I liked, so I was fighting with the teachers. I don’t think that there’s a rule in fashion in how you have to chart your course.
On his least favorite fashion trend:
Well I have to say, maxi dresses are terrific if you have a tailor, but if I see another girl literally tripping over her clothes, sweeping it on the ground… The trend that I want to see? Everyone get a tailor. How hard is it? Get a tailor.
On his design philosophy:
I truly believe that my legacy will be that you can have it all. You can be glamorous, sexy, comfortable, you can feel good in your own skin. Balance indulgent with pragmatic. You have to feel good, that’s what it’s all about.
Lauren David Peden writes for Rue La La as a Contributing Editor.