Michael Kors on How LA Shaped Its Aesthetic and American Fashion

“Oh my god, they changed this place,” said Mindy Kaling, as she walked into Los Angeles icon Canter’s Deli, which Michael Kors took over on Tuesday night for the ultimate high-low dinner party featuring Spago, naturally.

“I don’t think I’ve been here in daylight,” she said of the spot, which she’s loved for nearly 100 years for its pastrami and since the 60s for its after-hours Kibitz Room, home to Joni Mitchell, Slash , the Wallflowers, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and more performed – and where DJ Kitty Ca$h got the after party on Tuesday.

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“This is my dress,” said Olivia Wilde, looking stunning in Michael Kors in a white tank top, slim skirt and double leather belt.

Friends new and old from the designer’s 40-year relationship with LA, including Kerry Washington, Gabrielle Union-Wade, Dwyane Wade, Marisa Tomei, Quinta Brunson and Shailene Woodley, came out to dine on Wolfgang Puck’s smoked salmon pizza, wagyu steak and MKC black and white cookies – and to celebrate Kors’ return to Rodeo Drive with a new store that opened last month.

“You bring what I do to life,” Kors said, toasting his guests and explaining the one-night Canter’s/Spago mash-up. “This is LA, these are hot dogs in evening gowns.”

As always, the designer wowed everyone, including the next generation of Alexandra Shipp, Kaitlyn Dever, Zoey Deutch and writer/actress Rose Gilroy, whose mother Rene Russo starred in the 1999 version “The Thomas Crown Affair” wearing clothes by Michael Kors for Celine.

Alexandra Shipp and Rose GilroyAlexandra Shipp and Rose Gilroy

Alexandra Shipp and Rose Gilroy

“Your mother said to me, ‘I’m finally doing a movie where I can be beautiful. I’ve always avoided doing movies where I’d be seen as a model,’” Kors told Gilroy, adding that one of his VIP clients was so impressed with Russo in the role, she ordered everything she wore on screen, and she dyed her hair to look. like her.

Although Kors is synonymous with New York City, his parents and grandparents lived in LA for years. He also credits L.A. with developing his aesthetic as a designer, he said over iced tea at the Polo Lounge on Tuesday morning, where he was wearing jeans and a “Summerland” T-shirt from the Montecito, Calif., suburb where which he often spends time in August.

The LA High Low View

“I think back to the ’80s before I had my own retail stores, and I was here doing a trunk show at Neiman Marcus I guess and every woman when they came in looked at a great jacket or looked at a great coat or a great coat. shirt and said, ‘I love it, but if it doesn’t work with jeans, I don’t do it,’” he said.

“Everyone is so fixated on New York as America, but California is where the rules were broken. This is where people wear sneakers with dresses. This is the global epitome of high and low.…So when we were going to do this dinner, I said, ‘What are the quintessential Los Angeles experiences?’”

Kors is an ardent supporter of remarkable experiences in every city, be it Broadway, Sardi’s, Tavern on the Green and EAT in New York, where he has found inspiration and hosted shows and events, or Lucy’s El Adobe, Pink’s and Canter’s in LA, where he often took his late mother, Joan Kors.

“I was trying to explain to my team how Kibitz Room was this weird, punk rock, ex-club place, and then the next day you’d see people on walkers going to get a cookie,” said Kors on site. Fairfax Avenue in a neighborhood known locally as LA’s bagel belt. “And then Spago, when you think of Vanity Fair Oscars parties, Wolfgang Puck and Swifty Lazar…if we can merge these two, I thought that would be the ultimate LA high-low”

Over the years, LA’s inspirations for Kors collections have included the Hollywood jet set, Cher, Lauren Bacall and Tony Duquette’s “Dawnridge”. And he’s still got the fever, heading straight off the plane Monday night to have dinner at the newly-revived Art Deco gem The Georgian Hotel in Santa Monica. (The John Waters exhibit at the Academy Museum is also on her to-do list, along with furniture shopping.)

“I could work off of mood boards straight from the Beverly Hills Hotel alone, the same as the Venice and the Sunset Strip,” he said. “My first account in Los Angeles was a store on Rodeo Drive called Lina Lee and it was Judith Krantz’s ‘Scruples’ with ceiling fans and peacock chairs. And then we sold Maxfield early, too.…I love Hollywood glamour. I love beach culture. I love the high low….I also love the whole idea of ​​how to break the rules about age. You know, it used to be like, no, you can’t wear that if you’re that age.…In LA, ever. You have a 20-year-old dressed as a doyenne and a 60-year-old dressed as a teenager.”

The scene at Canter's Deli.The scene at Canter's Deli.

The scene at Canter’s Deli.

Hollywood gambling

Sitting in a booth under a heat lamp on the leafy patio of the Pink Palace, Kors recalled one of his first famous sightings at the Beverly Hills Hotel when he was having lunch by the pool with his grandparents. “I see this incredibly elegant woman dressed to the nines, full of jewelry, hair done, and she’s with this guy who’s as old Hollywood as the pocket square and the ascot. Everyone else is in a bathing suit,” he said. “It was Cyd Charisse and her husband Tony Martin. They were sitting and playing cards.”

He also loves Barney’s Beanery, recently discovered by Gen Z and the last place Janis Joplin visited before she died. “It’s like a time capsule.”

Venice? “I remember when it first became an artist spot. … Everyone’s partners [Jean-Michel] Basquiat with New York but you have to remember that Larry [Gagosian] he started everything here,” he said of the artist who did much of his early work in LA, and the burgeoning art dealer is opening his first gallery — a poster shop — in Westwood. “There are so many layers here that I don’t know if everyone sees. You get the grime and the glitz, and the great thing is that LA has always had both.”

Kors opened its first store on Rodeo Drive in 2004; it closed during the COVID-19 pandemic and the new location is smaller and closer to Wilshire. “The street feels alive again,” he told Rodeo, noting that the store is for tourists, locals and celebrities.

The Celebrity Factor

“They bring her to life in a way that allows people who are not in the public eye to look at a particular celebrity and say, ‘Oh, I’m related to her. I relate to him. If they could wear it maybe I could,’” Kors said. “Olivia Wilde, for example. I’m a huge fan of her incredible talent, of course. But she will try different things. We did shorts, we opened the runway show with them, and a lot of people over 30 would say I can’t wear that. But when you see Olivia in them, an adult wearing it, it brings it to life.”

Olivia WildeOlivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde

Kors is also a celebrity, of course, after 10 seasons of “Project Runway,” shot mostly in New York, with one season in LA.

Immediately, everyone assumed that he would write his own script, that he would make a story about his life. But no – at least not yet. For one, the business is in a delicate position, with the Federal Trade Commission suing to block the $8.5 billion acquisition of Tapestry Inc. from Capri Holdings, the parent company of Kors, which saw its fourth-quarter sales fall in line with the broader one. slow fashion.

His days of packing and shipping boxes, or scrawling MK logos in his school notebook are long gone. “Obviously, business is expected to evolve and change. And this is all part of the process.…Did I ever honestly think that I would walk down the street in Paris, that I would walk down the street in Tokyo, and we would be there? But you’re in fashion so you better be ready for what’s going to change.”

What is selling well now? “The dichotomy is what’s happening to the spring. An explosion of femininity with this lace all or sharply tailored. Nobody is interested in the middle.”

Welcome to the world.

“What’s happening now is that you have to be more thoughtful than ever as a designer.…The consumer is looking at it and saying, ‘I don’t want to wear it once. I want there to be flexibility. With the weather, it’s best to beat it in any season.’ Working and resonating are things that check all those boxes. And then of course, if it is too pragmatic, like everyone, I want joy. And then if it’s too much fun, it’s the only shot. I know after 43 years, when the whole world is shaking you have to stay the course,” he said. “It’s about me and designers in general to make something that makes you feel great when you wear something but doesn’t make you feel stupid for spending the money.”

Launch Gallery: Olivia Wilde, Kerry Washington and Gabrielle Union Dine with Michael Kors in Los Angeles

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