Michael Kors: 30 Years, 30 Favorite Things
Few designers are as unequivocal in their vision as Michael Kors, who has consistently struck the elusive balance between wearable and chic in his 30-year career creating clothes, accessories and fragrances. Perhaps it’s the same courage of his convictions that allows this Cheshire-grinning lion of industry to scale the heights of success in the fashion world yet still play on the ground of popular culture as the amiable terror on the perennial TV hit Project Runway.
“To stay focused and be patient” is the practice he most preaches. Kors has never deviated in design from a sort of simplicity, deceptively difficult to achieve, that deserves the label of modern classic. To mark this milestone, it seemed apt to ask the designer who never second-guesses to name more than a few—30, to be exact—of his favorite things.
1. Accessory Aviator sunglasses are a staple.
2. Inherited trait I love to debate. I grew up in a family of people who also love to debate—especially my mother, Joan, and my grandmother Bea.
3. Good luck charm I always wear my grandfather’s wedding ring.
4. Guilty pleasure Cheeseburgers. It’s an unfortunate indulgence, but eating one puts a smile on my face, especially when it’s collection crunch time. My absolute favorite burger joint is The Apple Pan in L.A.
5. Fictional character One of my favorite movies has always been The Thomas Crown Affair, the original version, with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway. And I was lucky enough to work on the 1999 remake. I relate to the main character, Thomas Crown. I love the idea of a guy who has it all but doesn’t take it seriously—he makes risk-tasking seem glamorous and effortless.
6. Comedian Lucille Ball. My favorite moment is when Lucy’s fake nose lights on fire while William Holden is visiting the Ricardos at their hotel in Hollywood.
7. Movie quote It would have to be Bette Davis’ line from All About Eve: “Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”
8. Theater experience I was 5 when I first went to the theater. I think that’s why I’m still such a theater fan. We saw Ethel Merman in Annie Get Your Gun. From the first moment, I was a goner.
9. Breakfast food I love a toasted bialy with scallion cream cheese.
10. NYC haunt The Little Owl. The food is wonderful, they play great music, and it’s on the most charming corner in the Village.
11. Color I’m very fond of camel, particularly cashmere coats, sweaters, and scarves.
12. Iconic designer For me, it would have to be Halston.
13. Mode of transportation Somehow it’s never a chore to travel by boat. It feels like part of some great adventure.
14. Classic album Bette Midler’s first album, The Divine Miss M. It’s a roller coaster of emotion on one album. I’d always been a huge fan, and now she’s a good friend and a client. She’s someone who has scaled the heights and still stayed real—an amazing person.
15. Spring collection I loved the opening of my Spring show, with Karmen and Simon all in white.
16. Gift received My partner surprised me with a portrait by Michael Vollbracht. I’ve always loved his illustrations, and I had it in the back of my mind to one day commission a portrait. In this case, I had no idea it was being done, which is perfect.
17. Animal I’m a Leo, so of course I love cats. I have two Cornish Rex cats. Their names are Bunny and Viola—two eccentric cats named after my two eccentric aunts.
18. Gadget iPod, definitely. I have five; I like to put them on shuffle. My musical taste is eclectic—anything from Billie Holiday to Lady Gaga to the Rolling Stones.
19. Board game My favorite board game is backgammon. If I have a worthy opponent, I’ll just keep playing. I won’t even notice the sun going down.
20. Wardrobe item A Michael Kors black cashmere turtleneck. We’re known for our cashmeres, so there’s no need to go anywhere else.
21. Evocative smell Bain de Soleil Orange Gelée. I grew up using no SPF, but over the years I’ve learned to tan and still be intelligent about it.
22. Work of art I would be very happy with anything by Mark Rothko or Jackson Pollock.
23. Inspirational read I’m a sucker for biographies, particularly autobiographies. I loved Robert Evans’ book, The Kid Stays in the Picture. An experience like his is instructive, particularly in a creative field like fashion.
24. Childhood souvenir I have all of my baby photo albums. I’m an only child, so I have everything from a lock of hair to my first plane ticket.
25. Solo getaway I don’t travel alone that often. But when we are traveling, I relish my time alone at Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos.
26. Urban hotel Claridge’s in London. It has such a distinctive heritage, yet it’s absolutely modern.
27. Restaurant La Fontelina, on the island of Capri. It’s right on the Mediterranean with an amazing view. You eat lunch barefoot, the food is fresh. There’s nothing like it. Oh, the spaghetti with lobster sauce…
28. Style icons Steve McQueen and Jackie Kennedy.
29. Drink Ketel One vodka on the rocks. I wear black and I drink white.
30. Time of day Golden hour at the beach, say 4:30 or 5 in the evening when the light is gorgeous and everyone looks gorgeous too.
This article was published in Entrée, the magazine for InCircle members.
Kors portrait by Norman Jean Roy.
Products (book, game, vodka) photographed by Laurey W. Glenn.