Few men become legends in their lifetime, but Michael Kors can safely claim the title. By building his empire on the concept of “affordable luxury”, Kors has ensured his place in millions of closets worldwide and gained entry into the elite Billionaire’s Club in 2014. His best friends are some of the biggest stars on the planet, he’s a consummate jetsetter, and he’s now a household name thanks to his stint as a judge on the popular reality TV show Project Runway.
But Kors did not come by fame, wealth, and success in a conventional manner. In fact, he dropped out of the Fashion Institute of Technology after only nine months in order to launch his own line. He faced failure when he was forced to file for bankruptcy in 1993, but that didn’t stop his tenacious desire, and he relaunched his line four years later. While Kors’ finances, life story, list of friends, and resumé are well known, Savoir Flair decided to dig through the archives to bring you the most surprising facts that we could find about the man of the hour.
In honor of Michael Kors’ birthday today, get to know the designer that is celebrated by everyone from Michelle Obama to the office intern.
A Head Start
Michael Kors’ mother remarried when he was five years old. Naturally, the budding fashion protégé had input into the design of his mother’s wedding dress. “I was like… I don’t know about the bows. Not so good. Clean it up. And the next thing I knew, she was actually listening to me,” he once said during an interview.
What's in a Name?
Michael Kors was actually born Karl Anderson Jr. and was given the opportunity at the age of five to take a new name when his mother remarried. In an interview with Fern Mallis for her Fashion Icons series, Kors joked that he had a premonition that “there could only be one Karl in fashion,” referring to Karl Lagerfeld of Chanel, of course. But the truth of the matter is that Kors desired “a really adult name” and, to this day, specifically requests not to be referred to as Mike or Mikey, but as Michael.
When Michael Kors was young, he was a child actor, most notable for his role in a ‘Lucky Charms’ cereal commercial.
While Michael Kors was growing up, he never tired of trying to put his obsession with fashion into practice by launching various fashion-related “businesses”. His “workshop” – which he nicknamed Iron Butterfly – was where he produced candles and leather goods that “sold out in a week”. At the age of 14, he launched a dry-cleaning service at the summer camp that he attended. That same year, he created the iconic Michael Kors logo while was doodling in class.
An Eye for Talent
Not only have many of Michael Kors’ fit models gone on to become Victoria’s Secret Angels, but the designer has also discovered other fashion creatives. For instance, Kors discovered the talents of Derek Lam while he was still an intern. Kors later made him a design director.
Down to the Last Detail
Michael Kors may have a sprawling kingdom of roughly 900 stores worldwide to oversee, but the designer still finds time in his overwhelming work schedule to personally write the press releases for each of his collections.