Byline: Holly Haber

DALLAS — It was like old home week for Michael Kors at Neiman Marcus.
The designer, who has been selling and schmoozing women in Dallas since 1983, was warmly received during his appearance at the downtown store for Celine. The occasion was the annual Crystal Charity Ball luncheon and fashion show — one of the biggest events at the store. Kors represented Celine as featured designer and a sponsor, along with Neiman’s and W magazine.
“I’ve always thought of Texas as a third coast,” said the designer. “There’s an amazing cross-section of women here in Texas — all types. The customer here is not an adversary to designers — in some cities women think designers are out to get them. Here, women are into fashion. They want to look good and are receptive to what’s new.”
The luncheon’s runway show is famous for its parade of 11 women who have been named best dressed through a poll of charity members, an exclusive and affluent group of 100 women. Eight of the honorees dressed in Celine, Michael Kors or a combination thereof.
“My closet is so Kors,” said Jeanne Marie Clossey, one of the women recognized for her style who was in head-to-toe Celine. “I think I have one of the first pieces he ever did. It has big shoulder pads. I’m waiting for them to come back.”
Elaine Agather, an honoree who wore Michael Kors, was bemused by the recycling of fashions.
“I’ve already done this — the hoops and fishnets and leather jackets,” she said. “I wish I had saved them.”
Staff at the downtown store had to pull Celine clothing from other stores to satisfy the demand here, said Todd Okerstrom, manager of fine apparel, couture and furs for the flagship.
“It’s like a cult,” he asserted. “There are groupies out there.”
The $125 gold chain belt has been a hot item, with all 16 sold out and the same number on reorder. Other big trends have been gold-chain shoes, leather, blouses, fur and cashmere, the designer noted.
“Suits have returned — important, extravagant, dramatic suits,” Kors declared. “It’s another option and they haven’t bought one in years.”
Neiman’s has been doing a solid business with Celine, having expanded distribution of the collection to 15 stores this year from five last year. Sales this fall have nearly tripled, noted Ann Stordahl, senior vice president and general merchandise manager.
“The business is doing well,” said Burt Tansky, president and chief operating officer of Neiman Marcus Group. “We’re delighted that Michael Kors is here today. He’s an important designer and we’re looking forward to growing with him.”
Kors flitted among the 550 ladies at the event, which took place last month and drew a bevy of local socialites as well as Susan Dell, who flew in from Austin.
“My customers are so discreet,” said Kors, gesturing to a woman wearing a Kors black and white skirt with MKs woven like chevrons through the pattern. “She bought the logos and didn’t even realize they were MKs.”
The luncheon was expected to raise $200,000 for the charity, which is aiming for a goal of $3.5 million this year that all will be donated to various organizations serving children.
The women named best dressed were Elaine Agather, Brooke Aldridge, Lana Andrews, Ann Caruth, Jeanne Marie Clossey, Julie Harrison, Susan Hayner, Sue Justice, Sarah Perot, Debbie Stack and Sara Martineau.

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