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A Minute With: Fashion's Michael Kors on 'staying on the street'

Designer Michael Kors acknowledge guests following his Fall 2014 collection during New York Fashion Week February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua L
Designer Michael Kors acknowledge guests following his Fall 2014 collection during New York Fashion Week February 12, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua L

By Alicia Powell

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Michael Kors, whose namesake fashion house is best known for its urban-inspired women's clothing and accessories, has taken a more laid-back approach to its fall-winter collection with muted colors drawn from Northern California's craggy coastline.

The line shown last week at New York's Fashion Week featured voluminous textured jackets and skirts with accents of fur and embroidered details, flowing printed dresses with cinched waists and chunky knits along with tailored coats and baggy trousers.

Kors, 54, who serves as chief creative officer of Michael Kors Holdings Ltd, spoke with Reuters ahead of the show about why he doesn't think it's fair to pick a favorite design, spotting his designs on the street and why he likes to unwind in California.

Q: What do you not mind talking about before a fashion show?

A: I don't mind the 'What's the mood of the collection?' Because that's what I'm trying to evoke when we put on the show. It is a mood, it's a feeling, it's an attitude. What I never like, 'What's your favorite piece in the whole collection?' That's like asking a parent with a lot of children to throw most of their children under the bus, so that one is never my favorite. But what's the mood? Yeah, that's what it's all about. We're trying to dress people for their lives, but we're also trying to set a tone.

Q: So about the mood ... what is that going to be?

A: The mood is, well, I'm a big-city guy. I'm a New Yorker, and so many of my clients really are urban people all around the planet, but we all crave unplugging. The place that's the most wonderful for me to do that is Big Sur in Northern California: nature all around you, no cell (mobile) reception, no Wi-Fi and an easiness.

There's a relaxed hands-in-the-pocket slouch to it that I love, but then, let's be honest, we all have to live this fast life. So this is really, 'How do you take that Big Sur attitude and bring it into the big city?' And it's (the fashion collection) the convergence of the two.

Q: Here in New York, your name is seen everywhere on purses and bags, do you get used to seeing ...

A: No, I get excited! I get excited. It's so funny. A lot of people say to me, 'You know, do you talk to people ...' I stop women all the time on the street: 'You look great. I love your bag.' They're like, 'I can't believe you noticed.' Sure, of course, I noticed. Listen, I think that for me, as much fun as a fashion show is, and it's a wonderful way for me to express myself, but nothing is more fabulous than seeing what you designed all over the streets. That's when you know that it works in people's lives. That's the most exciting thing.

Q: The price of your company's stock has risen nearly 30 percent in the past month, and investment banks have recommended it. Do you pay much attention to that side of the business?

A: Honestly, I really concentrate on my client, what I'm working on - whether I had two employees back in 1981 or today when we have a global business - I've always kept my eye on the customer. I stay on the street, I keep my ear to the ground, and that's what really matters.

Q: How closely do you pay attention to the competition?

A: You've got to worry about yourself and what's right for you.

(Reporting by Alicia Powell; Writing by Eric Kelsey; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy and Jan Paschal)

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