The Michael Kors 40th Anniversary Show Was a Star-Studded Ode to New York City
The NYC designer celebrated his brand’s 40th birthday, with assistance from Bella Hadid, Helena Christensen, and a surprise appearance by Naomi Campbell.
When Vogue profiled a 22 year-old Michael Kors in 1981, he told the magazine, “I want to make clothes that won’t date.” Forty years later, while celebrating his brand’s anniversary, the manifestation has come true.
For his digital show—a star-studded event featuring Broadway stars, supermodels like Ashley Graham, Bella Hadid, Helena Christensen, plus a surprise appearance by Naomi Campbell—the New York designer heralded a return to slick city dressing, utilizing the Theater District as its backdrop.
The show stream began with an intro filmed at Sardi’s, with Zoom boxes lighting up the restaurant’s famed portraits. Broadway legends like Alan Cumming, Billy Porter, Chita Rivera, Marisa Tomei, and a muted Bette Midler warmed up the crowd with both jokes about Hamilton and Laura Benanti’s famous vocal range, plus facts about Broadway’s economic impact and importance to New York City.
Marisa Tomei remembered her first Michael Kors piece—a red leather jacket—and Cynthia Nixon let us know that in the 2018/2019 season, Broadway supported over 100,000 local jobs. (Kors urged viewers to support The Actors Fund, and both Kors and his company donated to the safety net organization for performing arts workers.)
And then came the runway, which was filmed on the empty city streets of the Theater District. With a backdrop filled with marquees, Kors tapped the kind of model cast one can have on standby only after working for as long as he has.
Bella Hadid wore a fire engine red patent leather coat and matching mini dress and Karen Elson had on a sharply tailored checkered overcoat. Helena Christensen, Irina Shayk, and Carolyn Murphy all wore floor-length metallic dresses—Going Out Clothes, all caps.
Some of the pieces were reissued versions of older ones first seen on the runway in the ’90s. Mika Schneider wore a zebra printed mini skirt suit that was inspired by one Helena Christensen wore while modeling Kors’ 1994 collection.
So yes, the pieces were timeless in that way all well-tailored, long-lined clothing is. Kors runs a well-oiled machine. He took few risks, but he’s never been a daredevil in his designs.
As Kors told Vogue recently, “There’s a part of me that’s very pragmatic, and then there’s a part of me that’s silly and indulgent.”
For pragmatism: there was built-up power suiting, armor-like puffer coats, and cashmere sweaters. Nearly anyone could wear those pieces. And then there were the pops of fancy: mini dresses with up-to-there slits, glitter jumpsuits, Naomi Campbell strutting slow and steady in a shimmering black gown.
It was an ode to that fabled New York woman you hear about in Odyssey songs—fitting for a man who once skipped his Long Island high school prom to party at Studio 54.
That gal about town fantasy of the city—which looks nothing like the pared-down reality we’ve been living in for the past 13 months—inspires countless moves to New York. Broadway is vital to the city’s recovery and economy, sure, but so are the clothes Kors makes that reflect those hopes and dreams.
There has been a lot of talk lately about how we will dress post-pandemic; Kors is clearly Team Keep Calm and Carry On. He’ll make a deal with you: no sweatpants at the office anymore. But you can feel comfortable in his amped-up basics, which ooze that type of easy and unfussy glamour he’s so well known for.