If any designer out there has a congenital fashion predisposition to address the COVID-19 moment with sensitivity and style, it’s Michael Kors. The intersection of function, ease and luxury that gained new import as housebound became everyone’s dominant state isn’t something he had to brush up on acutely.
Rather, that fusion has formed the core of Kors’ work for nearly 40 years. Of course the pandemic heightened the intensity of the challenge for him as for everyone: Why should women buy luxe clothes for a life at home?
In a preview on Wednesday, Kors said the moment calls for “clothes and accessories that, number one, make you feel like your best self…it’s about confidence. It’s about things that feel wonderful on your skin.”
Kors reveals the collection today in a “digital package” that features a seven-minute documentary about his love of New York, by the young filmmaker Haley Elizabeth Anderson, and a fashion show staged in a community garden of the New York Restoration Project, the organization founded by his friend Bette Midler, who appears in the documentary. This garden is in the Bronx, three blocks from Yankee Stadium — “nothing could be more New York than that,” Kors offered — and five blocks from where his grandfather grew up. Long a lover of live performance at a show, he enlisted Samantha Diaz, the most recent “American Idol” winner, to perform a Carol King selection.
Kors chose the garden setting to reflect his discovery during lockdown of “nature and rebirth through an urban lens.” He’d go for walks, and the emptiness of the streets drew his focus away from asphalt and architecture, to elements of nature — the tulip bed in a window, Central Park’s lushness, river views. He wanted to express the resonance of that discovery in his show. Yet this is no floral fest, in fact, quite the opposite. The collection reads as a study in serenity, clothes the wearer can turn to over and over, without turning tiresome. “You’re going to wear it on Thursday, [and] on Thursday, 10 years from now,” Kors said.
Today, tomorrow, 10 years out, who doesn’t want to cozy up in a big, enveloping cashmere sweater over a languid skirt? That combination, repeated with various tweaks of proportion and design nuance, set the tone for a lineup that’s both spare, in its lack of superfluous embellishment, and voluptuous in its ample proportions.
The ease continues in tailored looks cut with room and appealing variations on the shirtdress, including one with a half-belt and wide, flyaway back, and a more sensual version in shirting stripes, cut long, with rows of buttons up the sides that can be undone for various degrees of provocation. Kors offers more streamlined alternatives as well, in lean separates and dresses, including a sexy midriff-baring dress, a few lean suitings and an ultra-chic trenchcoat. As for dressing up, sequined tank and T-shirt dresses can be dressed up or down, while a pair of graceful goddess gowns, in shades of brown, with braided detail, await the comeback of real events.
It’s all great-looking, yet in a manner that doesn’t make for the most riveting runway presentation. But then, Kors could care less. He didn’t design these clothes for showboating, either by himself or his clients. He intended them to make everyday life a little lovelier, now and 10 years from now.