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Last night, Fern Mallis interviewed the unstoppable Michael Kors in the conclusion of her first season of Fashion Icons talks at the 92Y in New York—just a hop, skip, and a jump from where it all began for the designer. Born Karl Anderson, Jr., in Merrick, Long Island, he went on to create a global fashion empire, nurture a training ground for designers like Peter Som, escort Vera Wang to the 1980 Met Costume Institute Gala, and outfit Michelle Obama for her official White House portrait. A few years of Project Runway and 231 stores later, he has become the Michael Kors. Here are seven quotes from last night's chat for your Kors education and general entertainment.
On his first store in his basement at age eleven: "It was called the Iron Butterfly Boutique...I was very crafty so I made fabulous candles, I made whip-stitched leather bags, I made hammered copper bracelets. I had a girl up the street who knew how to crochet and we made snoods...so I set the whole thing up in the basement of our house in the suburbs, and I invited all the kids from the neighborhood to come over and I sold everything in like a week."
On developing his aesthetic: "My mom is very understated, very sporty, loves clean lines. She's really for the most part about solid color and neutrals. My grandmother was an explosion of print, color, jewelry, loved all of it. In a strange way, being a little boy at the time...you had Liz Taylor and you had Jackie Kennedy and I think my aesthetic is this blend of the two. I love glamour, I love indulgence, but at the same time, I love simplicity and I kind of think that ying-yang is something that started early for me."
On being a Leo: "I think if you're a Leo, you're definitely not shy, you're definitely opinionated, and I'm a summer baby. I'm a beach boy at heart."
On his bar-mitzvah: "Every decade has its good points and its bad points. The '70s—the good point: Halston. The bad point: mustard and chocolate as an entire color theme. Down to the invitations, the yarmulkes, the matches, the tablecloths, it was a pretty insane moment."
On his first night clubbing at Studio 54: "I went to Studio 54 the first time instead of going to my senior prom. Studio 54 had just opened. I wrapped a girlfriend of mine in hot pink gauze, a strapless pareo, a harem pant, flower behind the ear. I was wearing a piece of raw silk jersey wrapped into a diaper pant with a panama hat, a burlap jacket, and I took three luggage straps, wrapped them around my waist and my thigh (which was considerably smaller then) and we got to the door at Studio 54 and I'm sure they were like, 'These kids are fabulous!'"
On his 2011 wedding with Lance LePere: "We're probably the only people who got married on the beach, jumped in the jeep, went to East Hampton, had pizza at Sam's, and went to go see The Help."
On the day he rang the bell at the New York Stock Exchange, his stock began trading, and launched the country's biggest ever public offering in fashion: "It beat my bar-mitzvah!"
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