Kors Delight
DALLAS--"This is Dallas and I can't get a stiletto heel? What is wrong with this place?" Michael Kors is teasing saleswomen at The Gazebo, where he's showing them his fall collection on the morning of a trunk show. Right off the bat, he can't find the right shoe for the model who's wearing his long, clingy matte jersey dress.
"You know what it's all about, girls--looking thin and tall," he pronounces, assuring them that a particular baby-doll dress is flattering and not fattening. "Call us shallow, but you don't spend your life on the StairMaster for nothing. You don't do it for your health! It's all about vanity!"
The standup routine is a biannual ritual for the designer, who makes The Gazebo one of the regular stops on his trunk show tour--partly because he does good business with the store, and partly because he knows several of the customers and likes to learn what they're looking for.
Kors displays to the nine saleswomen a windowpane-plaid T-shirt minidress topped by a boxy double-breasted jacket and declares, "Jackets are changing. The whole thing of a long jacket over a tight skirt is over."
Later, Kors says that jackets in his next collection for resort will be very soft, falling from the waist to the hip bone. Other key upcoming looks: pastels; knee-length hemlines that are slipped, unbuttoned and wrapped, and lots of unstructured, two-piece dressing.
Despite the vaunted return to glamour in fall collections, Kors still shows elegantly cut minimalist styles. "What we do is very simple and understated," he acknowledges. "There's a terrible misconception that women in Texas don't understand understated simplicity. I think they do, but they want to look feminine and upbeat."
Gazebo customers proved his point; the two-day trunk show did $95,000 in sales, with the most popular item a lavender wool melton dress with a boxy jacket for $1,400 that sold more than 20 units.
Last spring, Kors broadened his price range by dropping the bottom retail price of jackets to $600 from $750. He's also talking about getting back into the bridge market.
"We'll definitely do something else again, but we haven't found the right partner," Kors noted. Stay tuned.

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