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NEW YORK — Michael Kors will be feted with the 2013 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion on Sept. 4.
This story first appeared in the March 8, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The honor, which will be presented by the Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, will be awarded at a benefit luncheon at the David H. Koch Theater in Lincoln Center here. The luncheon kicks off New York Fashion Week.
“I’m deeply honored to receive this award from the Couture Council. They do such an amazing job putting the spotlight on design, and I think that to be included in the esteemed company that has been awarded this honor in the past is very gratifying and very exciting,” said Kors.
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The designer believes that American sportswear has finally been recognized as a global phenomenon.
“I’m always happy to wave the flag that design is not strictly haute couture, but that there is something about American sportswear that is such a part of global dressing now. I think people now realize there is more to American sportswear than jeans and T-shirts. It’s a way of dressing, it’s a way of life, ultimately. It’s not American anymore, it’s global,” Kors said.
Valerie Steele, director of The Museum at FIT, said Kors has been nominated many times by the committee, which consists of journalists, retailers and curators. “The committee’s mandate is to look not only at the previous year’s accomplishments, but at a lifetime of contributions to fashion,” she said.
Kors attended FIT, where he recently endowed the Michael Kors Scholarship with a $1 million gift, establishing an annual scholarship for a fashion design student.
Kors’ company, which went public in December 2011, has been on a fast track, generating revenues of $1.96 billion last year. The firm produces a range of products under the Michael Kors, Kors Michael Kors and Michael Michael Kors labels, ranging from accessories, footwear, watches and jewelry to women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and fragrances.
Asked about the whirlwind he’s been on the past year, Kors replied, “Well, I think that realistically to sustain a long-lasting career as a designer, you have to have curiosity and you have to have energy. I sometimes joke that 20 years ago, I used to say ‘Oh I’m so busy’ and now I realize I actually had a lot of free time on my hands.…Fashion is a reflection of the world that we live in. Life is faster than it has ever been before and, therefore, fashion is faster than it has ever been before. And you can either get left in the dust in life, which therefore would leave you in the dust in fashion, or you can learn to speed up and move with the times.”
Kors said the best advice he would offer FIT students would be to get a job in a store.
“It worked for me. I think that a lot of young people are not aware of how clothes are made, how clothes fit and also what kind of women wear what kind of clothes. The best way to learn that is to be in a store. And obviously, it also helps you define who you want your customer to be, who is ‘your girl.’ It lets you see how fabrics work when you see women in the clothes, so you’re not operating in an ivory tower.”
Past recipients of the Couture Council Award are Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, Karl Lagerfeld, Dries Van Noten, Isabel Toledo, Alber Elbaz and Ralph Rucci. In 2008, Giorgio Armani received a special award for Global Fashion Leadership.
The luncheon chairs are Kamie Lightburn and Jieun Wax.