“I’ve always held on to that idea that fashion can transform you and transport you. It has the potential to change you, your mood and your life quicker than anything else. It can help tell everyone either who you are or who you want to be.”
With a sharp focus on providing his customers with accessories and clothes that are consistently polished, chic, relaxed and glamorous, 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 revealed his eye for design 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. He left school to start his own label in 1981, following accolades for his work at Lothar’s, the 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 business, Kors also served as creative director of Céline, the renowned French luxury brand, from 1998 to 2004. He is credited with restoring the brand’s former luster, re establishing it as one of the major European fashion houses.
Michael Kors’ New York City-based company has seen significant growth beyond its ready-to-wear roots to its current status as a global design house in the luxury fashion and accessories arena (including handbags, footwear, sunglasses, watches, jewelry, beauty and fragrance) under the Michael Kors and MICHAEL Michael Kors labels. In December 2011, the company went public on the New York Stock Exchange in the biggest IPO for a U.S. fashion business in history.
As of the end of the first fiscal quarter in 2015, the company has over 605 stores with flagships in the world’s most sophisticated cities, including New York, London, Paris, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, Singapore, Dubai, Shanghai and Istanbul.
But the fashion designer also focusing on giving back. In 2012 Kors established a lifetime endowment scholarship at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), his alma mater. In 2013 he launched “Watch Hunger Stop,” partnering with the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to help fight world hunger and designing the 100 Series watch. A portion of the proceeds from his special edition timepiece helps provide food to children through WFP’s school meals program.
That same year Halle Berry joined the Watch Hunger Stop campaign to help raise awareness. This collaboration carried over to 2014, with the creation of a new, limited-edition 100 series watch, introduced by Halle Berry. In July 2014, Halle Berry participated in a field visit with WFP to Nicaragua that was filmed for Michael Kors by National Geographic. In October, Michael Kors launched a “Selfless Selfie” campaign, encouraging customers to post a picture in a limited edition Watch Hunger Stop tee on World Food Day (October 16). For every picture posted, Michael Kors pledged to personally donate 100 meals to children in need all around the world. To date, Kors has helped WFP deliver over five million meals (and counting) to hungry children.
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. He 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 Gala in 2009.
In 2010, the CFDA acknowledged Kors with their most prestigious honor, the Lifetime Achievement Award, which was presented by Vogue editor in chief, Anna Wintour. He also received the Award of Courage from the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR) in 2011. In October 2012, God’s Love We Deliver honored Kors with the Golden Heart Lifetime Achievement Award.
In 2013, Kors was selected for the Time 100, the magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world; he also made the New York Observer's list of the 100 Most Influential New Yorkers. In addition to all of these accomplishments, Kors was a judge on the Emmy-nominated show Project Runway from 2004-2012. The show was syndicated internationally.