Investment dressing, versatility, timelessness. In this age of environmental awareness, it’s front-and-center of the fashion discussion. As Michael Kors nears his 40th anniversary in business (not a typo — 40 years), he’s thinking about those characteristics relative to his own work. So much so that as he prepared his pre-fall collection, Kors did some archive-surfing, and identified some timeless pieces, including a windowpane ruana over a bodysuit and culottes from 1981. He thought it looked darned good, and to open his pre-fall presentation (he calls it “transseason”) he reissued the look fairly faithfully, minus the overdone makeup and flashy jewelry.

The ruana’s vague southwestern feel got Kors thinking about the Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum he’d seen a while back — “her clothes, so modern” — and the explosive cultural moment country and the American West are experiencing right now. He rattled off a litany: Orville Peck, Lil Nas X, the indomitable Dolly Parton. “There’s this incredible movement,” Kors said, wondering if it might be about “finding something to be proud of in Americana today.”

Hefty musing for a pre-fall collection. And happily so, because the collection looked great, a chicly indiscrete fusion of Western and Kors-ian tropes. For starters, Kors reconfigured urbane, often strict tailoring with Western flourish. A sublime skirt suit got prairie-fied leg-o-mutton sleeves; a pantsuit, muslin floral embroidery. Kors went mad for fringe, adding long diagonals to the lapels of coats and jackets, and a wrist-to-wrist line across the sleeves and back of a sweater made from recycled cotton-and-cashmere and paired to a tiered fringed suede skirt. Similarly, he peppered pony patterns throughout, most demonstratively on a faux-shearling coat worn with a crêpe de chine shirtdress and cross-body bag, all in various degrees of the pattern, and on a  smaller, speckled pony coat as well as dresses, skirts, handbags and even the calf-skin bodice of a gown, which he dubbed “the antimermaid dress.”

Yet Kors knew when to temper the down-home flamboyance. He did so with gentle dresses in muted prints such as the smoke-and-black paisley elongated smock worn over a black turtleneck — a subtle stunner.

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