Michael Kors, 1989

Top: Kors and model exude the American ease which would define the designer’s career, photo by Tony Palmieri. Bottom: A look from Kors’ fall 1989 collection, highlighting the designer’s propensity for uncontrived glamour, photo by Thomas Iannaccone.

Like many prominent American designers, Kors executed sportswear with a high level of skill and a fresh perspective, and along with Mizrahi, helped push the genre into the 90’s with a startling relevance. Lauded for his “witty minimalism” and a heavy focus on practicality, Kors took a cue from Calvin Klein’s cleanliness and the bourgeois glamour of Ralph Lauren but sans the former’s relentless starkness and the latter’s sometimes overbearing historicism. You could characterize Kors’work at this time as both intellectual and populist, with his minimalist tendencies hinting at an impressive conceptual and commercial insight. For Kors, the two qualities are not mutually exclusive and they would never escape his work, even if only one of those qualities would seem to leave a lasting mark.


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