He is a celebrated fashion designer, a first-class philanthropist, and one of TIME magazine’s Most Influential People in the world. On what it takes to achieve longevity in the fashion industry, Michael Kors quoted three qualities: tenacity, curiosity, and passion. “We should name one of our fragrances ‘Tenacity’,” said Kors. The designer was in Singapore this week to grace the opening of the Michael Kors Mandarin Gallery flagship store with his ever-gorgeous muse, Hollywood starlet Kate Hudson.
“In all the years that I’ve known you, you have managed to stay the exact same person,” said Alina Cho, former host of CNN’s “Fashion: Backstage Pass”, to Kors during a morning dialogue at the School of the Arts on Tuesday. “You are humble. You are kind. You are generous. You are hilarious, and you are larger-than-life and a person that I truly, truly adore.” In that one hour spent hearing the designer talk about his legacy in life and fashion, it’s really not that hard to believe Cho’s words. Ahead, seven interesting facts to know about Michael Kors. Ps: you’ll never guess which Hollywood actor(s) he would choose to portray him in a movie!
He likens Singapore to New York
“For someone like me who loves to shop, who loves great food, who loves warm weather. This is the perfect spot. I can shop till I drop here. I’m happy the humidity is good for my skin. As a New Yorker, I love any place with a mix of cultures. Manhattan is this tiny island with all these cultures, and Singapore is very similar. You have a mixture of cultures and nationalities that I think makes this a special place.”
He now has a new Orchid flower named after him
“Dendrobrium Michael Kors is a good perfume name. It’s nothing that I’ve ever imagined. It’s a major honour. We have two cats who like to eat flowers. On my list of flowers that we actually can have in our house that they can eat and will not get sick are orchids. I’m taking my orchid from Singapore to our house in Florida and have a little bit of Singapore at home in the States.”
He knew nothing about the business of fashion when he first started
“I didn’t know how you actually ship the clothes to a store. I didn’t realise that in the store, they could actually steam something with a steamer or press it. I was afraid my pieces would crease, so I had each piece individually wrapped with tissue and plastic. I called my aunt and I said: “Would you drive me off to Bergdorfs?” We got into the car, we loaded the back seat with all of these clothes, and we pulled up to a receiving dock. My aunt said: “Who do I meet?” And I said: “I don’t know.”
I didn’t know there were codes and barcodes (on the clothings), so I had to decide what I needed to number everything. So I decided: style number one, style number two, style number three. Black pants. Brown top. Black dress. Brown skirt. It wasn’t the most professional way to jump into things but the customers responded to the clothes.”
He wants Will Ferrell and Danial Craig to portray him in a movie
“Well, there will be two movies. There is the comedy, which I think will be a big box office hit. [I’d choose] Will Ferrell. Then there’s my fantasy movie, which will be sexy and moody, [and] that would be Danial Craig.”
He was not a fan of reality television, but changed his mind when he did Project Runway
“To me, reality television showed people who ate bugs and try to vote each other off. I was concerned. Fashion’s something that I love and it was hard work. I didn’t want anything to make fun of the hard work that goes into fashion. I wanted it to be shown as the creative endeavour that it is.
The way that they convinced me to do the show… they said to me: “You are a design critic at fashion schools in New York at Parsons School of Design, at FIT, and you work with students. You’re going to do the same thing here. We’re just going to televise it. There’s no script. You just say what you think.”
The first year that I did it, I thought maybe this would last a year. Who knew? 10 seasons later, and the show is going strong. It’s a global phenomenon, and I think it’s shown people around the world this amazing alchemy that fashion is.”
Singapore will house the first flagship store in Southeast Asia to feature menswear
The Asian market always keeps you as a designer on your feet. I find that this city, in general, got this incredible mixture of people -- both local and global who are coming here to shop. Women have long known the power of wearing something and what it portrays about you in the world. Men have been kind of stuck in their rules. Now it’s a whole new world for guys. We know now that men are looking for versatility. There are a lot of male fashionistas here in Singapore.”
He thinks real women wearing his clothes are the coolest thing in the world
“I literally would stop on the street, or at the airport, and count handbags. I count watches. I will talk to people on the street. I love seeing people enjoying, wearing and looking great in what I design.”
Fighting world hunger is his cause
“As I started travelling around the world, I started to see that this was a global problem. I sat down and I thought, who can we partner with? Regardless of what’s going on in the world -- whether there’s war or civil problems -- who has the possibility and capability to deliver food around the world?” The United Nations has the World Food program. We have all these fans and all of our clients. We can mobilise this and we can make a difference. [So far,] we’ve served 15 million meals.”