Byline: Wendy Hessen

NEW YORK — Sure, handbags and shoes were at the top of Michael Kors’s list when it came to adding accessories as a complement to his casual, yet luxurious clothing collection. But eyewear was the very next thing, and now his first collection will be joining the bags and shoes as they debut in stores this spring.
“Eyewear is the first thing I always think turns into someone’s signature,” said Kors. “All the people who I consider glamorous and stylish — like Steve McQueen, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and [former New York Times fashion editor] Carrie Donovan — they all use eyewear to set them apart.”
The collection — to be unveiled later this month at Vision Expo at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York, where Kors plans to make a personal appearance — includes 13 styles each of sunglasses and prescription frames, and reflects the contradictory blend of feminine with masculine and indulgent, yet practical style that is Kors’ signature.
“Normally, glasses either go one way or the other: glamorous Hollywood starlet or sporty high tech. I like the idea of sporty glamour,” said Kors. “With the eyewear, we played around with mixing materials that would blend the high tech with the organic, and wanted a look that could be as utilitarian as a goggle, but sort of movie starish, too. There is a statement to this eyewear. They aren’t for a church mouse — you definitely notice them.”
Though there are the requisite acetate frames in five colors, including rich browns, khakis and black, a major portion of the line is centered on bright, shiny metals or metal looks.
“I like the whole idea of shine and light [for eyewear],” said Kors. “It’s sort of jewelry for the face. It’s flattering, glamorous and feels modern.”
Aviators, a dominant theme, have long been the shape Kors favors for himself since he opted for his close-cropped, Steve McQueen-inspired haircut.
“Aviators are rooted in a functional look, but they are so glamorous,” Kors said, adding that, on a woman, they are “sort of Lauren Hutton, very sexy, sporty, strong and stylish.”
Some aviator versions, featuring a cutout MK logo on the temples, bowed in March fashion magazines as part of the overall Michael Kors corporate image campaign.
The eyewear is manufactured in Japan and Italy under license by the upscale CXD division of Charmant. Eric Domege and Christian Roth, CXD’s in-house design team and eyewear designers in their own right, helped Kors and his creative director for accessories, Richard Sinnott, develop the line.
Wholesale prices for sunglasses and optical frames range from $69 to $99, and they will be available in about 500 better department and specialty stores and select optical retailers in the U.S., along with the Michael Kors store on Madison Avenue in Manhattan. A further rollout to Japan, Mexico and Europe will be completed by the end of this year, according to Jim Simon, vice president of CXD. While declining to project the potential for Kors’ eyewear, Simon said, “We anticipate tremendous growth and activity” surrounding the line.
The CXD division also manufactures licensed eyewear for Christian Roth and two divisions of Hugo Boss.
Kors was particularly involved in designing the cases that hold the eyewear. Whether opting for a sleek and shiny silver aviator or a glam shield accented with clear Swarovski crystals, sporty chic women will have novel packaging in which to carry around their frames.
Sunglasses slip into a soft, camel-color drawstring pouch that slides into a camel box wrapped in aluminum. Optical frames are encased in a slim camel and silver box, opened by hinges at the end rather than the middle.