On his 54th birthday, get to know the man behind some of our favorite fashions— Michael Kors!
Michael David Kors was born Karl Anderson Jr. Kors’ biological parents split when he was young, but was given a new name when his mother remarried businessman Bill Kors. “My mother said, ‘You’re getting a new last name, so why don’t you pick a new first name?” he told PEOPLE. “Michael and David were her favorites. I chose Michael as my first name and David as my middle name.”
Young Michael was a child star. Kors appeared in television commercials for Lucky Charms, Charmin, freeze-dried apples, Snapple and more. He dropped acting by the age of 14. His mother has said that as a child Michael also wanted to become an architect and also design cars.
One of his first gigs was to design his mother’s wedding dress. He was five. “My mom ended up getting divorced from Bill Kors, but the dress is pretty timeless.”
He skipped his senior prom to party at Studio 54. “Studio 54 had just opened. I wrapped a girlfriend of mine in hot pink gauze, a strapless pareo, a harem pant, flower behind the ear,” he said at 92Y last year. “I was wearing a piece of raw silk jersey wrapped into a diaper pant with a panama hat, a burlap jacket, and I took three luggage straps, wrapped them around my waist and my thigh (which was considerably smaller then) and we got to the door at Studio 54 and I’m sure they were like, ‘These kids are fabulous!’”
He dropped out of the Fashion Institute of Technology after just two semesters. Instead, he took a job at a French boutique across the street from Bergdorf Goodman, who eventually invited him to show his collection.
Michael first appeared in Vogue magazine in 1980. The glossy was his absolute favorite as a child.
In June 1993, Michael filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Of course, the fashion titan bounced back; he became the creative director for French fashion house Céline in 1997.
He’s a celebrity favorite. But, you knew that. His fashions have been worn by First Lady Michelle Obama, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Gwyneth Paltrow, Heidi Klum and countless others.
He almost turned down Project Runway. “Reality show? Fashion on television? I thought that only fashionista freaks, gays and men wanting to see Heidi Klum in a short dress would watch it.”
(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Michael Kors)