Backstory Behind the Bags: Michael Kors

Bag Handbag Michael Kors

This week our 'Backstory Behind the Bags' feature brings you an American designer, who has grown from strength to strength since founding his label in the 1980's. Offering sophisticated and casual designs to fashion fans across the globe, the label has seen its fair share of international success. With handbags that are not only stylish but affordable, it's no surprise why this designer is so covetable and is seen as the accessory of choice for so many women. The label? It's Michael Kors of course.

Born Karl Anderson Jr, (9th August 1959), the New York based designer arguably grew up in a world immersed in fashion. His mother, Joan, a former model, is said to have encouraged the designer's creative flare, even letting Kors design her wedding dress at the age of just 5 years old. This was the second wedding for Joan, and for her son this was where he first became known as Michael Kors. Marrying Bill Kors, Joan, gave her son not only the option to also change his surname to Kors but pick a new first name altogether, which is when he picked the name Michael.

Yet Kors' fashion focused childhood didn't end with the design of his mother's wedding dress, as a teen the Long Island based designer started designing and selling clothes from his parents basement. In 1977 Kors even went onto enrol at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and whilst it might seem a logical step for any creatively minded individual, Kors only stayed for nine months before dropping out to work in a small Manhattan boutique.

It was in 1981 though that Michael Kors arguably got his big break with the launch of his own label, Michael Kors. Initially the label produced only a womenswear line, (menswear, shoes and accessories were introduced later), and featured in iconic department stores including, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord and Taylor, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus.

Kors isn't just known for his creative mind though, as he managed to persuade the notoriously influential Anne Wintour, (now the editor of Vogue magazine), to view his collections at just the age of 23, demonstrating a flare for networking with the right people.

However, despite Kors initial success, his label's history is not without its turbulent times. In 1993 Michael Kors was forced to file for bankruptcy, which meant he also had to discontinue the fashion line he worked so hard towards. Yet rather than accept his fate, the New York designer pushed to bring back his label and in 1997 that is exactly what he did. Making way for a new age of Michael Kors, a lower priced line was created and once again the label rose from strength to strength.

Since Michael Kors re-launch in 1997, the designer has brought out a menswear line in 2002, and in 2004 he launched the MICHAEL Michael Kors line, which includes handbags and shoes, and the KORS Michael Kors line, which features Jeans as well as footwear.

In the decades since he began designing for his Michael Kors label, the American designer has not only won over many females, (and male), fans, he has also impressed the fashion elite. He has not only been the winner of two CFDA, (Council of Fashion Designers of America), awards in 1999 and 2003, but he was also the youngest ever recipient of the CFDA's Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement award in 2010.

Kors, who married his partner Lance LePere in 2011, is currently still living in New York whilst his label grows more popular with each passing day. With handbags famed for their 'MK' plaques and the label aiming to promote 'wearability' in their designs, it is no surprise that the American designer has not only achieved widespread success across America but in across the globe too.

By Stephanie Jade Sleaford

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