Even during the recent recession, American fashion designer Michael Kors‘ brand has grown. In Alberta, his stores are springing up in West Edmonton Mall, Southgate Centre and at Chinook Centre in Calgary. Kors, who’s also a regular judge on the fashion design reality show Project Runway, has done hundreds of trunk shows throughout his career and says knowing customers on a personal level is key. He should know: At age five, he was already redesigning his mother’s wedding dress. “I have always loved dressing women and seeing how my designs look on different people,” says Kors. “It helps me in the design process to know what works and what doesn’t.”
Why did you finally decide to enter the Alberta market?
“Our growth in Canada over the past few years has been phenomenal. At the end of this year, we will have lifestyle stores in all major cities in Canada, including a second store in Vancouver.”
Because it gets cold up here, are your Alberta stores going to stock up on extra winter wear?
“Yes, but my fall and winter collections have always been very Canada-friendly – that’s one of the reasons for our success here. I love cashmeres, knits and scarves, hats, gloves and how it all layers together. It’s both luxurious and practical.”
What should a handbag say about the woman wearing it?
“Handbags, and accessories in general, are a great way to add individuality to your look. It’s an instant update to your wardrobe. If you start the day in black trousers and a pullover with a satchel, but want to feel sexy at night, pulling out a chic clutch with a bit of hardware will do the trick.”
What goes into designing the perfect handbag?
“I design my handbags with a lot of thought as to what women want. Details such as light-coloured lining that makes it easier to find stuff, key fob holders, cellphone pockets – functionality in a bag reflects individual style.”
Now that you’ve judged eight seasons of Project Runway, what would you say makes a winning designer?
“A winner on the show has to have it all: a point of view, a clear, concise message and, above all, talent.”
There are now nine declared candidates. Who has your support?