Michael Kors was born in Long Island, New York in 1959. He is half Scandinavian, half Jewish. He studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology.
He had two aims as a child, to be a movie star or a fashion designer. He describes himself not as an only child, but as a companion to his mother, a former Revlon model and shopaholic, who brought him up alone. At 4 years old, he modeled in cereal commercials and by the time he was a teenager, he was taking the train to Manhattan to study acting. His grandparents would show him beautiful fabrics and show him the difference between quality and not. As a child he studied the fashion sketches in the New York Times newspaper.
He learned his fashion trade by working at Lothar’s boutique.on 57th Street, New York. Celebrities like Cher, Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand came there to buy casual clothes. This gave him an insight into customer preferences and before long he decided he could design better clothes than they had in stock.
He established his own sportwear label in 1981 and put together a small collection of separates for buyers at Bergdorf Goodman. These sold on the spot. His clinging scaled-down jumpsuits called attention to the body which he then layered with jackets. Forking frequently with natural fabrics and neutral colours, Kors creates garments that are noted for the minimalist approach, yet the cut is curvaceous and designed to flatter.
His separates are often practical – the body-hugging dress is worn with a more tailored jacket, other jackets double as shirts. Many of his designs are inspired by the great American sportswear designer Claire McCardell. He is a deeply cool, directional designer who makes sexy, sleek, sharp modern clothes.
He included his menswear line in 1990 but in 1993 faced severe financial problems. He managed to bounce back.
In 1998 he became designer at the deluxe French house of Celine. He was chosen when Bernard Arnault (chairman of LVMH who own Dior and Givenchy) felt he was the man to breathe new life into the deluxe French house.
In 1999, he was named Womenswear Designer of the Year by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Today, his clothes, the epitome of sporty luxury in ultra-chic, ultra-wearable fabrics like cashmere, silk and leather, have never been so enthusiastically received.
He has designed for several films, the most recent being for Rene Russo in the Thomas Crown Affair. He has also opened a boutique in the London store Harvey Nichols. He totals 108 boutiques across America, Europe and Japan.