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For Michael Kors, Everything Is a Special Occasion Now

The designer revisited his own archives for his outstanding 40th anniversary collection.

The Michael Kors customer is ready to dress up again — and the designer himself is more than ready to provide for them. 

"Thank God we've had trunk shows on Zoom over the past year," Kors said while presenting highlights of the collection to press. He estimates that he's done 30 of them with customers and that they, like the rest of us, have all hit sweatpant fatigue. That's music to Kors's ears, a man who has never met a luxe fabric he didn't immediately love. 

For his latest collection, Kors began thinking about the city opening up, how women will be in a mood to turn heads walking down the aisle to their seats at the theatre or winding through a restaurant to get to their table. "Everything is a special occasion!" he cheered. And, of course, it's the designer's 40th anniversary — the perfect occasion for a party. 

This milestone sent him looking back into his archives (though he joked he didn't do such a great job maintaining them when he was younger) to pull some of his favorite see-and-be-seen designs from seasons past. In a 2021 twist, those archival looks — some 16 in all — will come with QR codes enabling the customer to pull up the history of the garment, whether that's a red patent coat originally worn on the runway by Cindy Crawford or a white crepe dinner jacket over a sequined dress first spotted on Madonna when she was named one of Glamour's Women of the Year.

With those ideas in mind, Kors set out to design a collection for women ready to strut their stuff again. "Anything that lifts your spirits is super important for me right now," he explained. Lifting Kors's spirits: monochromatic red looks, skirts cut short and slit high to reveal the leg, "a full turnout" houndstooth suit set, the freshness of head-to-toe white, mirrorball dresses. (Things that lifted my spirits: Hearing Kors describe his collection in a way only Kors can. "Oh, to go to a restaurant and turn heads as you walk to your table," he sighed as a model walked past in head-to-toe leopard crepe; another look, a white puffball shearling coat layered over a gold mirrored dress, had him crowing, "You are the party!")

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For those not quite ready to give up the comfort of pandemic dressing, Kors made some concessions. There's an excellent sleeveless coat which takes the ease of the bathrobe and gives it boardroom polish; a waterproof silk faille jacket lined in faux fur is what Kors implores you wear if you must keep the yoga pants. He even has a take on a puffer coat that will have you banishing your basic black winter standby to the back of your closet.

The show setting matched the excitement of the clothes: A string of Kors's supermodel friends took the streets of New York City's Theatre District to get to a Rufus Wainwright performance on a Broadway stage. The finale looks are particularly breathtaking, still simple and streamlined but with a flash and shine that Kors hopes make these "not a Zoom gown, but an 'across the table at the gala' gown."

It's the best Michael Kors Collection has looked in a long time, clothes which see the designer at his strongest. Fall 2021 proves why Kors has had such staying power in a notoriously fickle industry: He knows what his women want, regardless of trends, and he's going to give it to them.

"You have the think about the long game, don't think about the short game. Always stay on the street, go out, go to restaurants, go to the theatre, travel, see what's going on," he said. "I think most importantly, stay true to yourself and stay true to your customers."

See the Fall 2021 Michael Kors Collection in the gallery, below. 

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