The New York Fashion Week front rows may be filled with the who’s who of influencer megastars, but Michael Kors, the grandmaster of American fashion, was thinking about a different kind of influence when he began designing his Fall/Winter 2023 collection. Staged in his location du jour, Lincoln Center, Kors created a collection that paid homage to the style icons of the 1970s. His moodboard included Tina Turner, Ali MacGraw, Cicely Tyson and Jane Fonda. “These are my influencers,” read a cheeky social media caption. “The women who intrigued me then and still intrigue me today are the women who break the rules,” Kors said in a pre-show press conference (per The Guardian). “They’re strong, powerful, smart [but] they’re happy to admit that they love fashion.”
Among those women? The feminist icon and Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem, who sat front row at the show, looking chicer than ever at age 88. Steinem’s sartorial sensibility — she is one of the most enduring “uniform dressers” — was evident throughout the collection, including the famous “concho”-style low-slung belt that she’s worn for more than six decades. Kors made iterations with chunky buckles in leather and suede, styling them breezy one-shoulder knit dresses and sexy mini shorts. Among the collections’ highlights? The fantastic herringbone coats, sharply tailored suits (with a decidedly ’70s flared leg), and jumpsuits with dramatic bell-bottoms. The eveningwear is a perennial Kors strong point: this season it included sequin gowns and embellished capes.
Kors’ mother, Joan Hamburger, is an enduring influence on both the brand and the designer himself. This season he placed Joan on his moodboard alongside Turner, Steinem and Yoko Ono. A feminist and athlete, in the 1970s Joan tried out for the (all male) Philadelphia Eagles after the team offered an open call for new players. “I learned from her you never listen to the word ‘no’,” he explained. “You just go forward.” Momentum is an apt word for Kors, who has built a multi-billion dollar brand with his new vision of American glamour. Often cited as a successor to Halston, there were subtle touches of Halston throughout F/W ’23. But Kors is a singular designer whose vision is entirely his own. And season after season, year after year, he creates his legacy as one of the all-time great American fashion icons. Much like Steinem herself.