with contributions from Jean E. Palmieri
 on February 15, 2017

The reality of the Trump presidency has hit fashion hard. Many designers have said, going into the fall season, their disquiet about the administration and fears for the country impacted their design process, though few have articulated exactly how. Nor has it been clear from their runways.

Not so, Michael Kors. Never a wallow-in-despair kind of guy, he didn’t mention the T-word specifically during a preview. Yet his words and his runway made clear its impact on his collection. “I don’t want to sound like I’m Betty Friedan or Gloria [Steinem],” he said. “But listen, I grew with a lot of strong ladies and wanted this whole collection to be about strength and sensuality combined.”

If that sounded less seasonal trope than core philosophy — touché. Only this time, Kors presented it as his singular motivation, no amusing bon mots referencing the Hollywood sirens he loves, no quips about Aspen or private jets. Even his casting bore a subtle difference. Typically, he enlists models across generations, and Carolyn Murphy, Amber Valletta and Isabeli Fontana walked along with the younger set and a surprise newcomer to the Kors ranks, the voluptuous Ashley Graham, who flaunted her curves in ribbed knit dress under a short fur jacket. She rocked.

They wore clothes that radiated a respect for zhushed-up classics and a power-woman vibe, not in a kitsch way but in a very real sense, even if more than a few looks owed a debt to the Eighties — and its own nods to the Thirties and Forties. On the tailored side, great-looking mannish coats were only part of the story, giving way to alluring belted suits and dresses. Then there were numerous draped blouson dresses in animal prints and Alexis Carrington shine. And the furs — indulgent explosions of mink and fox, including a version of his favorite new outerwear piece, the “cape coat,” in merlot fox, and a black silver fox cut out to expose the shoulders.

Then men’s wear worked a classics current with softly tailored topcoats and double-breasted suits updated with statement zippers. And Kors showed a white cropped shearling jacket and an oversize black puffy parka that added a trend-right touch.

Overall, the chic bell tolled at a high pitch, if at times one too familiar. It also delivered Kors’ primary message loud and clear: Let’s hear it for all kinds of women, sensual and strong.

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