Michael Kors is the funniest man in fashion — or at least that's how Fern Mallis described him when she brought him on stage for the latest edition of her Fashion Icons series at 92nd Street Y.
Mallis asked Kors about everything from growing up on Long Island, where he was born Karl Anderson Jr. — "the least likely name for a nice Jewish boy" — to his first dalliance in fashion: redesigning his mother's second wedding dress at the age five. "The dress is pretty timeless," Kors said. Read on for more highlights from the talk — including Kors on his first Met Gala, who he'd like to play him in a movie, and why he dropped out of FIT.
On redesigning his mother's wedding dress: "My mom tried the dress on and it was covered with a zillion bows — bows everywhere! And my grandmother said, 'That's magnificent!' And I just kind of sat in the corner, and my mother said, 'What's wrong? What do you think?' So I said, 'I think it's really busy.' So my grandmother said, 'Oh, don’t listen to him, he’s only five.' Priscilla of Boston, how could you go wrong? And then the tailor came in and my mom said, 'Trim off a few of the bows,' so they took them off the bodice at first. And then my mom said, 'You know, he’s right. Take them all off,' so the bows went off."
On dropping out of FIT: "I got to school and I had been sketching since I was really small, and I had such firm ideas about what I liked, so I was fighting with the teachers . . . I don't think that there's a rule in fashion in how you have to chart your course. I would never tell anyone, 'Oh drop out, it worked for me.'"
On his first Met Gala with Vera Wang, while he was working for the retailer Lothar's: "Vera, in fact, was working at Vogue ... and wore a Michael Kors for Lothar's charmeuse slip with a leather down vest and a mohair sweater around the waist. I think we were definitely doing creative black tie. In we went and it was the year of the Saint Laurent exhibit. I got to meet him and I almost levitated. This was when it was in December and it started snowing while we were in the Temple of Dendur. Suddenly it got very quiet . . . and then we found out that it was the night that John Lennon was killed."
On the show that inspired Mallis to start fashion week: "The music started, and it was very hot that day. Pounding, pounding, pounding music. Naomi Campbell was out there strutting her stuff and all of a sudden I heard this explosion from backstage. It sounded like gunfire and I was just, 'What on earth was that?' Naomi got off the runway and she said to me, 'The ceiling caved in. The plaster just came down. And hit people.' We hit Suzy Menkes . . . It was time for New York to get professional show spaces. Voila!"
On who should play him in a movie: "If it's a drama and vanity comes into it, I'm gonna have to go with Daniel Day-Lewis. If it's a big box office comedy, Will Ferrell."
On his philosophy of life: "You can have it all. You can be glamorous, you can be sexy, you can be comfortable, you can feel good in your own skin. Balance indulgent with pragmatic. You have to feel good, that's what it's all about."