Michael Kors: All-American Boy
BY LAURIE BROOKINS
Friends for the Ages
Actress Rene Russo believes she may know an equally essential secret to Kors’ success. “It seems to me that Michael is a naturally happy guy; he certainly exudes that,” she says. “He also always strikes me as a very kind person, and that he enjoys his life, and all of that really shows in his clothes.”
In the 1980s Russo was a young model, freshly transplanted from her native Burbank to New York, when she met Kors, with his cherubic face and untamed curly hair. “I didn’t know anything about the business at all, and I would go to these offices with my portfolio, and people were so dismissive of me,” Russo remembers. “Then one day I went up to Michael’s studio, and he walked in like sunshine. He was so young himself, and I don’t know if he could feel that I was awkward or insecure, but he really put me at ease, and I loved him for that.”
While she’s worn his clothes consistently on red carpets over the years, Russo most famously collaborated with Kors for 1999’s The Thomas Crown Affair, a film that has attained something of a cult status among fashion lovers for the styling of Russo’s character. “I’ve got a few of those pieces to this day, and I still wear them because they’re just as amazing today as they were then,” she says. “There’s a beautiful black sheath, a coat and a few of the turtlenecks. Everything he did was so perfect for the character; she needed to be strong and all business, but also beautiful and sexy, and the clothes really helped to make that statement. I don’t know any other movie I’ve done in which the clothes defined the character the way Michael’s did.” Russo was among the star-studded lineup that turned out to commemorate Kors’ 30th anniversary during the debut of his Fall collection, shown at New York’s Lincoln Center in February. The A-list front row included Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta- Jones, Anjelica Huston, Debra Messing, Emma Roberts and Bette Midler, who had a plan of her own for the designer. “The show day was full of surprises, and normally I’m not good with surprises— for my 30th birthday, I redid the guest list for my surprise party,” Kors says. “Celebrities normally come backstage before a show starts— you get a second to catch up, and they take a sneak peek at the racks before the show. But Bette had not arrived, and she’s always unbelievably on time. Then I heard she was there, but everyone said, ‘No, you can’t say hello yet, just wait here.’ I asked why, and I was told, ‘Just wait, you don’t have to know everything.’”
AG Jeans design director Mark Wiesmayr and stylist Jeanann Williams on denim's cultural footprint.