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Jennifer Anne Koenig

Jennifer Anne Koenig

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No other fashion designer perfected the concept of chic yet luxurious American sportswear quite like Michael Kors. Since launching his eponymous collection in 1981, Kors' designs were worn by anyone who knew a thing or two about fashion - from Park Avenue princesses to West Coast trendsetters. While Kors built his reputation by making clothes for the moneyed set, he expanded his brand by designing elegant yet affordable pieces for the masses, and launching a full range of menswear, women's accessories, and fragrances. Kors further expanded his sartorial influence as a judge on the popular reality show "Project Runway" (Bravo, 2004-08; Lifetime, 2008- ), where he dished out constructive fashion advice and memorable zingers to the show's contestants, and solidified his standing as one of the world's most influential and successful fashion authorities.Born on Aug. 9, 1959 in Long Island, NY, Michael Kors' first fashion influence was his mother, Joan Kors, who encouraged the then-budding designer to sketch at an early age. She even asked Kors to design her wedding dress when she remarried. Kors attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and at age 19, began designing and merchandising...

No other fashion designer perfected the concept of chic yet luxurious American sportswear quite like Michael Kors. Since launching his eponymous collection in 1981, Kors' designs were worn by anyone who knew a thing or two about fashion - from Park Avenue princesses to West Coast trendsetters. While Kors built his reputation by making clothes for the moneyed set, he expanded his brand by designing elegant yet affordable pieces for the masses, and launching a full range of menswear, women's accessories, and fragrances. Kors further expanded his sartorial influence as a judge on the popular reality show "Project Runway" (Bravo, 2004-08; Lifetime, 2008- ), where he dished out constructive fashion advice and memorable zingers to the show's contestants, and solidified his standing as one of the world's most influential and successful fashion authorities.

Born on Aug. 9, 1959 in Long Island, NY, Michael Kors' first fashion influence was his mother, Joan Kors, who encouraged the then-budding designer to sketch at an early age. She even asked Kors to design her wedding dress when she remarried. Kors attended The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, and at age 19, began designing and merchandising a collection for the famed local boutique, Lothar's. The success of the collection caught the attention of the fashion press, prompting him to create the Michael Kors label in 1981 - a collection of minimalist yet luxurious American classics for women that was sold in high-end designer stores. The line was an instant hit with the Park Avenue crowd, and set the wheels in motion for the rest of the world to get onboard Kors' vision of chic, timeless sportswear.

In the early 1990s, Kors launched his lower-priced collection, KORS Michael Kors. During this time, he also worked as the creative director of the French fashion house, Celine. Through the years, Kors earned numerous accolades including the prestigious CFDA Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year in 1999. The CFDA recognized Kors contribution to fashion once again in 2003 with the Menswear Designer of the Year award. Kors continued to expand his brand by launching a full range of women's accessories and menswear that were embraced by trendsetters all over the world, including celebrity style icons Madonna and Gywneth Paltrow. He even designed First Lady Michelle Obama's dress - a classic black shift dress -for her first official portrait in 2009.

While Kors' sporty-yet-feminine designs were a favorite among the fashion elite, the openly gay designer did not become part of the mainstream consciousness until he became a judge on the smash hit reality series "Project Runway," where aspiring designers competed for a $100,000 cash prize and a chance to break into the fashion industry. The show gained the perennially tan Kors an entirely new kind of audience and made him a household name, thanks to his humorous albeit stinging critiques of the contestants' designs such as "She looks like a paper brioche!" or "She looks like a pole dancer in Dubai."

Throughout his career, Kors stayed true to his design aesthetic of making clothes that were all at once chic and sumptuous. In response to a growing demand for sophisticated yet accessible fashion, in 2004 he launched Michael By Michael Kors, which featured pieces that cost between $79 and $800. Kors continued to build his fashion empire, reportedly worth almost $1 billion in sales in 2011, by launching collections that embodied the spirit of the times, such as his back-to-nature-themed spring collection that incorporated hemp and other sustainable fabrics.

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