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Michael Kors was born and raised on Long Island, a suburb of New York City. He attended The Fashion Institute of Technology, where he studied fashion design.
Kors began his career in fashion at the age of 19 designing and merchandising a collection for the renowned boutique Lothar’s in New York City. The success of these clothes caught the attention of the fashion press prompting Kors to strike out on his own.
In 1981 the Michael Kors label was formed; his first collection was launched with unanimous praise from the press, and began selling and Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, among others. Since his collection was established, it has never strayed from Kors’ initial vision of the most luxurious fabrics and perfectly tailored sportswear, with a sensual edge. Since the beginning he has produced collections that have been lauded by retailers and press alike, garnering coverage in the most prestigious fashion publications and stores worldwide.
In 1995 Michael Kors launched a bridge line, Kors Michael Kors which is manufactured and distributed by Onward Kashiyama, USA, a division of Onward Kashiyama, Japan. This collection in its sixth year, has globally outperformed all projected sales figures, and continues to receive expansive coverage from the worldwide media.
In November of 1997, in addition to launching a capsule men’s wear line under his collection label, Kors was named the women’s ready-to-wear designer for the house of Celine, a division of LVMH, Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. His first collection for the house, Fall/Winter ’98, debuted to critical acclaim. In February of 1999, he was named Creative Director for the house, and given the additional responsibility of overseeing all women’s products and creative imaging.
In February of 1999, Michael Kors, LLC announced that the luxury goods group LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton has purchased a one-third stake in the company. Co-Chairman and Design Director Michael Kors, and Co-Chairman and CEO John Orchulli, owned the remaining two-thirds respectively. In December of 2000, a 10% stake of Michael Kors LLC was sold to Onward Kashiyama USA.
In October of 1999, plans were announced for the first Michael Kors flagship store at 974 Madison Avenue in New York City, which opened in September of 2000. Additional stores will open in London and Tokyo by Spring 2002. Plans are currently underway for the first Kors Michael Kors freestanding store that will debut in March of this year at 159 Mercer Street.
In November of 1999, the company signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Parfums Givenchy Inc., the North American unit of the LVMH Fragrance and Cosmetics group, for the exclusive worldwide licensee to create, distribute and market fragrance and body products for the fashion house. A signature fragrance was launched in September of 2000 and has consistently been in the top three within every door it has been offered.
In 2000, Michael Kors LLC signed licensing agreements with Schwartz & Benjamin as the North American licensee to produce a full range of shoes; Le Tanneur & Cie for the exclusive worldwide licensee, excluding Japan, to produce a line of collection handbags and small leather goods; and The Charmant Group for the worldwide licensee to produce and distribute a full range of Michael Kors spectacles and sunglasses. All accessories will bow at retail for the Spring 2001 season.
In September of 2000 the company announced that it had entered into an agreement with Gibo SpA, a unit of Onward Kashiyama Japan, to manufacture and distribute worldwide, excluding North America, the collection line. In addition, a Milan showroom was established for the collection with Danielli Ghiselli Difusion to sell throughout Europe.
Celebrities who have worn his clothes include Sharon Stone, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Michelle Pfeiffer, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Lopez, Anjelica Huston, Julia Roberts, Sigourney Weaver and Rene Russo, among others.
Michael Kors received DuPont’s first American Original Award in 1983, and the Elle/Cadillac Fashion Award for excellence in 1995. In July 1996 he was named by Vogue part of the “New Establishment” – and referred to as one of the most influential designers of the decade. In February of 1999, Kors was given the Lifetime Achievement Award from Lighthouse International. In June of 1999 Michael Kors received the most prestigious award in the fashion industry – the CFDA Award for Women’s Wear Designer of the Year. In December of the same year Kors received The New York Award, celebrating 10 people who epitomize the spirit of the city, from New York Magazine in the Fashion category, as well as the Golden Hanger Award for best designer, 1999, presented by E! Television Networks. In January of 2001 Out Magazine named him to the Out 100, a list honoring those who have made a difference during the past year. Michael Kors serves on the Board of Directors of The Council of Fashion Designers of America, and is an Executive Vice President. Kors current resides in New York City and Paris.