By  on May 12, 2011

NEW YORK — Few designers are as good in front of a live audience as Michael Kors.

The designer and “Project Runway” judge proved this point on Wednesday at a Couture Council luncheon at Doubles Club here, where he took to the stage for a conversation with Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. The Ladies Who Lunch set turned out in their best Kors ensembles, and many mobbed the designer from the minute he stepped into The Sherry-Netherland hotel. “There is pandemonium, everyone is so excited,” Steele said.

Kors didn’t disappoint. He reminisced about his family, his career start and life in the fashion spotlight — and didn’t shy from giving the women a few fashion tips. Kors spoke of his fashion inspirations, from his understated, elegant mother to a grandmother he described as totally over-the-top. “My grandmother told my mother, ‘You look so plain,’ and my mother said, ‘Take a piece of jewelry off,’” he recalled, adding that that “ying and yang” between the two continues to inform his fashion sensibility today.

As for fashion advice, he had plenty. “I think the craziest thing is how you can get dressed without a three-way mirror,” Kors said. While he is not opposed to style icons guiding as templates for women, “don’t try to be Kate Moss if you’re 5-foot-2, 55 years old with red curly hair,” he said. “It’s knowing yourself.”

When a woman in the audience asked him how to best weather the recession, his formula was simple. “If you are a fabulous pizza chef, make the best pizza, but don’t try to make sushi,” Kors said. “Stay true to yourself.”

Those who couldn’t make it to the luncheon will get their chance to see Kors today. He is making a special appearance on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and its Ultimate Makeover Extravaganza segment. The designer, along with Orlando Pita and Bobbi Brown, will transform four Chicago police officers into glamorous Kors women.

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