Health Matters: Weight and Wellness in the World of Fashion
Harris Center Public Forum
March 22, 2010
Burden Auditorium at the Harvard Business School
Mr. Kors began his career in fashion at the age of 19 designing and merchandising a collection for the renowned boutique Lothar's in New York City. The success of these clothes caught the attention of the fashion press, prompting Kors to strike out on his own. In 1981 the Michael Kors label was formed; his first women's collection was launched at Bergdorf Goodman and Saks Fifth Avenue, amongst other stores. Since his collection was established, it has never strayed from Kors' initial vision of chic, luxurious American sportswear.
In 2001, Michael Kors launched accessories under his collection label. Today, the line includes a full range of women's handbags, shoes, belts and eyewear. In January 2002, the company launched a full scale men's collection in response to the critical acclaim received by a capsule menswear line launched in 1997.
In fall 2004, Kors unveiled MICHAEL Michael Kors, to an unprecedented launch in over 350 stores nationwide. The MICHAEL Michael Kors labels include women's ready to wear, swimwear and accessories including handbags, small leather goods, belts and shoes as well as eyewear and timepieces for both men and women.
Mr. Kors' first signature fragrance for women, 'Michael Kors' was launched in September of 2000. Following the success of the women's fragrance, in September of 2001 Kors launched his men's signature fragrance. In spring 2005, the company launched its second fragrance, 'Island Michael Kors.' 'Island Michael Kors' has spawned four limited editions, 'Island Michael Kors Fiji', Island Michael Kors Hawaii', 'Island Michael Kors Capri', and Island Michael Kors Bermuda'. In fall 2009 the company launched its third fragrance franchise 'Very Hollywood Michael Kors' to wide acclaim.
Michael Kors Collection flagship boutiques are located in the United States on Madison Avenue in New York City, at the Americana Manhasset in Manhasset, New York, on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California, Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida, and Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. In August of 2006 the company began an aggressive growth of accessory focused stores encompassing the world of Michael Kors, there are currently 44 to date with a goal of having 100 by 2010. In November of 2006 a boutique containing both Collection and MICHAEL Michael Kors opened at the Galleria East in Seoul, Korea and in 2008 a Collection boutique opened in Milan on the Via Santa Andrea as well as New Bond Street in London in the spring of 2009.
Celebrities who have worn Mr. Kors' clothes include Angelina Jolie, Cameron Diaz, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lopez, Mary J. Blige, Kate Winslet, Sandra Bullock, Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Kate Hudson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Anjelica Huston, Jennifer Hudson & Debra Messing. In March of 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama chose a Michael Kors dress for her first official portrait. In the weeks and months following, Mrs. Obama wore Michael Kors clothing to several high profile events.
Michael Kors received Dupont's "First American Original" award in 1983, and the Elle/Cadillac fashion award for Excellence in 1995. In July, 1996, he was named by Vogue magazine part of the "New Establishment" - and referred to as "one of the most influential designers of the decade". In June of 1999, Michael Kors received the most prestigious award in the fashion industry - the CFDA Fashion Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year, followed by the Menswear Designer of the Year Award in 2003. In June of 2001, 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008, Mr. Kors was one of three nominees for the Accessories Designer of the Year Award.
In 2004, Mr. Kors began his role as one of the judges on the critically acclaimed and five-time Emmy-nominated reality show "Project Runway", a role that he continues in the series' seven seasons.
Mr. Kors currently resides in New York City.
Her rise from obscurity to being christened by Vanity Fair as “the 21st century’s first supermodel” has been chronicled in living color on the pages of magazines worldwide and is a story ripped from the pages of Hollywood’s dream machine, but for Natalia Vodianova her life is not a fairy tale, but one she calls a “great adventure.” Born in Nizhniy Novgorod, an industrial town over 250 miles from Moscow, Natalia’s hometown and her life there was as far from the runways of Paris, Milan and New York one could ever imagine. The oldest of three daughters, Natalia was raised by her single mother and grandparents, and spent her childhood caring for her two sisters and helping to support the family by working at a fruit stand. When she was spotted by a model scout and urged to go to Paris to pursue a career as a model, she did so, with only a suitcase, her dreams and her newly learned English as her companions.
In “the City of Lights”, life altering moments began to build as Natalia embarked on her new career, quickly gaining the attention of photographers and designers, who were taken by her grace in front of the camera and her magnetism behind it. A meeting with designer Tom Ford led to Natalia’s starring in the 2002 Gucci campaign, which in turn ushered in an explosion of covers and appearances in the world’s most noted fashion magazines courtesy of such acclaimed photographers as Steven Meisel, Mario Testino, Annie Leibovitz, Bruce Weber, Steven Klein, Mario Sorrenti and others. Complete domination for several seasons of the runways of Yves St. Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Dior and a host of other celebrated international designers only added to Natalia’s rising stock.
Nicknamed “Supernova” by industry insiders due to her meteoric rise, Natalia then moved from the inner circle of fashion stars to mainstream recognition as the face of Calvin Klein’s women’s wear, jeans, accessories and Euphoria perfume lines with magazine ads and billboard appearances across the globe. Since then, Natalia has appeared in international campaigns for L’Oreal Paris, Versace, Louis Vuitton, Guerlain, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel Beaute, and now the young Russian beauty - who only years before was struggling to support her family - has became one of the most seen and recognized women in the world.
The 2004 Beslan tragedy in Russia, stunned Natalia like the rest of the world, but from her tears her steely resolve and call to action was born. With her husband, British artist Justin Portman, Natalia channeled her desire to do something for the children of her country by founding The Naked Heart Foundation, a charity dedicated to building safe and secure play centers across Russia. Since 2005, The Naked Heart Foundation has created 23 play parks in 19 Russian cities, and the numbers continue to grow. With the heady scent of a successful career and her roles as philanthropist and wife as well as mother to young sons, Lucas and Viktor, and daughter, Neva, Natalia is living a life that as the saying goes, “is one that dreams are made of”.
Anna Wintour has been Editor in Chief of Vogue since 1988.
Ms. Wintour joined Condé Nast in 1983 as Creative Director of Vogue, and in 1986 she returned to her native England to become Editor in Chief of British Vogue. She was Editor in Chief of HG from September 1987 until July 1988, when she rejoined Vogue in her present position.
Ms. Wintour began her career in 1970 in the fashion department of Harpers & Queen magazine in London. In 1976 she moved to New York and joined Harper's Bazaar as a fashion editor. Next, she joined New York in 1981 as senior editor and in that capacity produced the magazine's fashion, style, and living coverage.
During her tenure at Vogue, Ms. Wintour has been actively involved in fund-raising, particularly for AIDS research and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1990, she played a strategic role in developing the fashion industry’s AIDS charity program, the CFDA/Vogue Initiative, through which she has helped raise more than $16 million, chiefly through the highly renowned 7th On Sale program.
From 1995 to the present, Ms. Wintour has co-chaired eleven fund-raising galas for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, which together have raised more than $40 million. In recognition of her work on its behalf, the museum named Ms. Wintour honorary trustee in 1998.
In 2003, Ms. Wintour spearheaded the establishment of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, an unprecedented initiative and award designed to aid emerging American fashion designers struggling to build successful businesses. Since its inception, the Fashion Fund has awarded close to $2 million to some of America’s most promising and up-and-coming fashion talent.
In September 2009, in response to the devastating consequences of the 2008 economic downturn, Ms. Wintour developed Fashion’s Night Out, a global-initiative public-service program designed to promote the retail industry, restore consumer confidence and celebrate fashion. In New York City alone, thanks to the thousands of people who turned out to shop that evening, participating stores saw a 50 percent rise in traffic, and seven out of ten people went home with something new.
Ms. Wintour has been the recipient of many awards for her leadership and philanthropic efforts, including the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Lifetime Achievement Award and the Award of Courage for AIDS Research from the American Foundation for AIDS Research (amFAR). In 2008, for her service to British journalism and fashion in the USA, Ms. Wintour was awarded Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. In October 2009, President Obama appointed Ms. Wintour to the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
In addition to editing Vogue, Ms. Wintour executed the development and successful launch of Teen Vogue in 2001 and serves as Editorial Director for the title.