ARLINGTON, Va. — Michael Kors brought a bit of “Project Runway” to Marymount University here, where he was named designer of the year at the school’s 18th annual fashion show.
Before the event, produced by students who also designed and modeled the looks, Kors offered a few encouraging words and they reciprocated with affection for the designer who has emerged as a television personality because of “Project Runway.”
Scores of starry-eyed students waited to have their pictures taken with him and one even shouted, “I love you, Michael.”
About 225 of Marymount’s 3,600 students study fashion design or merchandising. The show culminates the fashion students’ four-year education.
“It’s like the Super Bowl of our school,” said Janice Ellinwood, department chair of the Fine and Applied Arts program.
Ellinwood said the students not only conceive and produce the show, but also put together the marketing and the advertising. It seemed from the audience, which filled the school’s basketball court, that the sales pitch worked.
Kors sat in the front row to take in the show, featuring mostly dresses, but also some men’s sportswear and kids’ clothes and even doggie duds. The designer said he was pleased that the students, who didn’t shy away from bright colors, weren’t bound by the traditionally conservative view of the Washington fashion scene.
The show was choreographed with models walking to thumping music in pairs or threesomes, and sometimes escorted by other students costumed as Secret Service agents.
“I thought it was fun,” said Kors, who stressed that young designers have to accept that success doesn’t come overnight and that each has to follow his or her own path.
In addition to being the star of the show, Kors examined their portfolios. “I’ve never had so much work to do in my life,” said Stephanie Burke, who was so busy she didn’t have time to think about Kors looking at her sketches.
Leigh Spatafore felt much the same. “I’m really ready for a break,” she said. “I’m feeling kind of starstruck, too, but definitely nervous.”
When Kors looked at the students’ portfolios, he was straightforward. “You’re into sportswear, that’s nice,” he told one student. “The world does not always wear dresses.”
This story first appeared in the April 30, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
He also told the seniors not to think that “intern is a dirty word,” and to specialize if they have a passion.