Michael Kors, one of the few big names not to have ditched New York for a European Fashion Week, can always count on bright, leisurely womenswear straight from the pages of Condé Nast Traveller. Or as Kors puts it: “Clothes for women who like to show off.”
On Wednesday morning, in a downtown Manhattan glass warehouse filled with palm fronds, he put his money where his mouth is. Her spring runway opened with a Halston-style white silk skirt suit that heavily referenced the one worn by Scarface star Michelle Pfeiffer as Elvira Hancock’s character – complete with a plunging neckline and band of well placed breasts. As evidenced by the costume’s legacy in movie costume lore, this was not only noticeable, but impossible to ignore.
If Kors is selling an impossible (and outdated) fantasy of what women want to wear, the star-studded front row – which included Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, flanked by tennis champion Serena Williams and award-winning actress Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, all dressed in Kors past and present – suggests it’s a fantasy some women are still chasing.
Being a spring collection, the idea was to bring “the resort to the city and the city to the resort,” Kors explained. “London is full of people who wear flip flops to work instead of the beach. What we wear on vacation is what we wear in town. In the world of Kors, that means women wearing floral-print kaftans to the office. , spindly heels both on their private jet and on the school run and their phones and keys in tiny tiny purses.
In reality, the collection was probably more suited to an idealized body shape – and the beach rather than a conference call. Mini sarongs were tied up to become miniskirts, wide-leg pants in red, black and pink belted to the hilt and plush silky blouses unbuttoned to the navel. Sequined skirts were paired with tight sequined tops (in gold of course) and bra tops were worn as, well, tops, showing off a little ab here and collarbone there.
Still, there was nuance between peekaboo tops and fringe, with Kors relaunching its famous cashmere shmoo, which looks like a sweater but is actually a scarf or belt. Designed to be draped over the shoulders, it was used to solve the problem of sexist air conditioning in offices, which, according to Kors, “are always too cold”. This shmoo came in red.
There was an attempt to touch on more meaty topics than what to pack for your vacation. Michael Kors’ response to austerity? “Buy something that lasts 20 years,” he said. “The best way to be sustainable is not to buy things you only wear once. I’m not trying to be mean to H&M, but that’s the point.
And what about those thick socks and sweatpants we’re all used to wearing around the house? “Good!” he said. “America invented comfort! But do I mean a tracksuit? No of course not.”
New York Fashion Week was marked by high-octane glamour, and understandably – the much-talked-about return to normalcy isn’t where it is in the UK, and mandatory mask-wearing had only been dropped in subways the previous week. After two years of ceding glamor to the pandemic, Kors thinks it’s time to move on: “People need to enjoy today.”