KORS SAILS INTO DOWNTOWN SEATTLE
Byline: Meg Halverson
SEATTLE — “People are kayaking into downtown here,” enthused Michael Kors, about the way women in the Pacific Northwest match high style with an active life.
He was here to celebrate the addition of his ready-to-wear line at Nordstrom’s downtown store with a trunk show and benefit. “It makes me think cashmere Polarfleece and T-shirts with ball gowns,” he said.
The June 21-22 visit included an evening presentation of his fall collection against the 180-degree highrise view of Elliot Bay, the Olympic mountains and the Space Needle. Sure, the party was to benefit the Pacific Northwest Ballet, to which Nordstrom bestowed $20,000. But it was clear that principal dancer Patricia Barker, along with soloists Jodie Thomas and Maria Chatman, turned out along with 250 local fans decked out in Kors to see the tan man himself.
The New York designer’s clothes have been selling briskly at the Bellevue Nordstrom — on Microsoft’s side of town — since 1999, said Sue Patneaude, vice president of the designer department, and her sales staff and customers have been clamoring to add the line to the downtown unit.
Patneaude noted Kors’s use of luxury materials and his craftsmanship appeal to the Pacific Northwesterner’s practicality:
“Michael cares about his customer. The straps are always the right width, the zippers are wide enough to go over your head, and there are no gimmicks. He’s brilliant with function.”
Kors showed luxury fabrics with sexy equestrian touches: Fitted breeches with jockey-inspired sweaters, sumptuous tartan ball gowns and tailored leather jackets. “It’s ‘Green Acres’ goes modern,” Kors said impishly.
The look was popular with Nordstrom customers, who combed the post-show racks for tailored leather jackets and skirts, and who eagerly handled chunky sweaters and sleek knits while salespeople filled out special-order requests.
The following day, Kors attended to 40 appointments at a trunk show.
“For many designers, that’s way too much intimacy,” says Pamela Lopez Perret, trend manager for Nordstrom. “Michael seems to thrive on that kind of contact.”
Nordstrom netted $650,000 in sales for the weekend event. Bestsellers included stretch cotton twill breeches and a white chunky rib turtleneck.