WASHINGTON — Michael Kors swept through Washington last week where he found his political base at a Nordstrom-sponsored charity fashion show in an 18th-century mansion.

Kors, who said he has no aspirations to dress a first lady, doesn’t have to worry about attracting attention in the nation’s capital. At the event, the 200 guests placed $500,000 in orders at a Kors boutique set up by Nordstrom and staffed by sales associates from the retailer’s Tysons Corner Center store. The hour-and-a-half shopping frenzy occurred in a crowded parlor with little room to maneuver among racks of the designer’s fall collection and makeshift dressing rooms.

Kors, in the midst of expanding his business and deciding who will be Michael Kors LLC’s ceo, seemed delighted to be away from it all.

“You have this fabulous weather. I’m thinking that I’m in a resort,” Kors said, before thefashion show on June 24, a benefit for Washington-based Charity Works held at the Halcyon House, a historic mansion in Georgetown owned by local sculptor John Dreyfus with sweeping views of a brimming Potomac River.

After a month of East Coast rain, models lolled around in the shade on the grassy rooftop terrace as Kors in black stood in the direct 90-degree sun. He dabbed his forehead with a linen cocktail napkin, sipped cranberry juice and vodka and reveled in commentary. Conversation ranged from Kors’ beloved curly haired Rex cat, Max, who died last year at 20 (“I’m not one of those fashion people who has a dog in a bag,” he said) to the designer’s preference for runways painted white, not black.

Earlier, sitting beside the empty runway in Dreyfus’ cleared-out studio, Kors said his forays out of New York, like the benefit and Wednesday store appearance at Nordstrom’s Tysons store, “is part of my design process….Customers definitely tell you what they’re thinking.”

In addition, Kors said his personal research dispels any thought of bureaucratic Washington as a frumpy place. “It might not be fashion with a capital F, but appearance is important here,” he said, calling local women “actually sexier and in better shape than a lot of people assume….I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think people here look great, and we certainly have a following here of women of all ages, all types.”Jennifer Wheeler, director of designer sportswear collections at Nordstrom,said local women routinely snap up items from all across Kors’ collections, although they “tend to be a little more conservative than the way our Michael Kors customer is across the country” and buy “great wardrobe staples” like separates in double-face crepe. But his skintight knitwear is also popular here.

“Obviously, that’s his mark. He’s wonderful with knits,” Wheeler said.

There are plenty of sexy lines in Kors’ fall collection that struck guests’ fancy, as well. Bestsellers included a stretch jersey python pencil skirt ($650), a walnut-colored side-snap jersey tube skirt ($595) and indigo cigarette tuxedo jeans ($395). Two of Kors’ Sedgwick coats with leather waists for $8,800 each and one $12,500 sable vest also were ordered from among the cadre of Kors fans attending, many of whom came decked in his clothes.

The Charity Works benefit, with Nordstrom footing the bill, raised $24,000 for the organization’s 2003 project: new-building funds for the Fishing School, an urban D.C. family center.

After cocktails and shopping, guests filed into the studio-turned-runway, with Kors’ mother, Joan, taking a front-row-center seat. She flew in from Los Angeles the night before, not wanting to break her almost-perfect 22-year record of being in the audience. “I did miss two Celine shows,” she confessed.

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