Michael Kors is an island kind of guy. Sojourns in late summer last year — just as he was starting on this resort collection — took him to Bora Bora and the Greek island of Hydra and renewed for him the validity of the word “resort” as more than a catchall handle for the anything-and-everything clothes being shown now. Like the designer himself, Kors’ customer “really does go away,” he noted. And while away, she likes to play to her surroundings. Kors thus designed an ebullient collection anchored by big, feisty — and very specific — florals and ample swimsuit references. But just as the Kors woman travels to glam-in-the-sun spots, she also comes home, most often to a metropolitan center. So, the ultimate challenge of the season, as posed rhetorically by Kors: “How do you take tropical and make it urban? How do you blend the two?”
He took a two-pronged approach. First, he grounded the flowery flamboyance in a citified palette — usually black and white played against brown or navy, brightened up with intense yellow. “Look outside,” he said, pointing to the construction site on view through a wall of window at the Whitney Museum. “It’s very urban — the exact color yellow as the trucks.” (It was.) And he mixed in graphics of a more geometric ilk in pajama and cabana stripes. He even folded in a whimsical conversational print — his first such indulgence after 36 years in business. It features a man and woman, apparently on vacation, being greeted by a man with a big smile and blonde hair, who’s wearing snappy white pants. Signage reads “Michael Kors welcomes you.”
That element of cheek played nicely into the overall breezy feel, the lineup’s second cornerstone. Unfussy fluidity dominated in easy separates and languid dresses, many based on the pareo. Often the looks combined patterns whether in unmatched pieces or with multiple fabrics in a single dress. A pair of dresses provided a ruffled moment without turning coy. And when he wanted a total break from the flou, Kors made deft use of tailoring in a sleek black gab sleeveless coat over white crepe trousers — a chic way to explore the isle of Manhattan.