Michael Kors puts on a show

SAY what you want about the man, but Michael Kors knows how to put on a show. For his 40th anniversary in fashion, Mr. Kors made Broadway his runway. Models like Naomi Campbell, Helena Christensen and Bella Hadid walked on pavement, the marquees of the theaters their guiding light.

“I’m here today to give back to a group of people who have given me so much,” he said in an opening speech about his show, mentioning efforts to raise money for the Actors Fund, well aware of the toll shutdowns took on their profession. The show was streamed via his website, as well as on YouTube.

His favorite performers were there too: American-Canadian singer, songwriter, and composer Rufus Wainwright sang in the background, and Broadway veterans Kristin Chenoweth, Bernadette Peters, Chita Rivera, and Billy Porter, among others, appeared on a virtual Sardi’s wall (singer Bette Midler was initially on mute as a gag). The Broadway stars raised awareness of the Actors Fund, a charity supporting performers and behind-the-scenes workers.

As for the clothes themselves —  Michael Kors made his fortune and his future empire (eventually coming to own not only his own brand, but also Versace and Jimmy Choo) on American-style sportswear, and a showcase of the type was expected. The autumn/winter collection was a mix of dressed-up daywear (a firetruck red pantsuit coupled with a fur coat) to understated evening glamor (a fully sequined black floor-length dress). The devil is in the details: the finale dresses in gold, silver, and black are draped with men’s coats (as if women were draped with their dates’ jackets), and zooming in reveals the coats’ fully-sequined lining.

Mr. Kors said he had reissued a selection of his brand’s “most iconic looks,” with each piece including a QR code revealing its story.

“This past year, I got time to actually think about the 40-year career, the journey that it has been, the people I’ve met, the places I’ve gone, all of the collections, it’s a lot to process,” Mr. Kors told Reuters in an interview. “But I’m happy — it was one of the rare good things about lockdown that we all, I think, really got a greater sense of appreciation about so many things.”

“I wanted to talk about, hopefully if we are optimistic but realistic, that when this collection arrives in the stores starting September, October, November, December, we’re all going to crave going out and getting dressed and kind of strutting our stuff,” Mr. Kors said.

“Theater will reopen and we won’t go to the theater in just a hoodie. We’re going to get dressed up. When we can get back into our offices and we have a meeting we’re going to want to get dressed up. When New Year’s Eve rolls around next year we’re getting dressed up. So, it’s very much a celebration of big city life, hitting the streets, the theater.”

The looks are what everyone in the world thinks a patrician New Yorker would wear: lots of black, lots of tailoring, and a hint of brazenness. Yes, that lady is wearing a polite little suit, but she decided to top it off with a zebra-print coat. Houndstooth and tweed stand side by side with leopard, fur, leather and metallics. All are presented with this American cleanliness that even leopard print can look almost polite.

“I’ve been fortunate to travel the world, seeking inspiration, but no matter how far I go I always come home to New York City,” Mr. Kors said. 

Watch the show here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjcY12iZWe0. —  Joseph L. Garcia with a report from Reuters