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Interview: Michael Kors' Beauty and Fashion Style Rules

September 23rd 2013 / Susannah Taylor


Fashion designer Michael Kors sure knows a thing or two about making women look fabulous. With the launch of his new capsule beauty collection Sexy, Sporty Glam, Susannah Taylor was lucky enough to meet the great man to talk ‘sneaky sexiness’, capsule wardrobes and a fellow dislike of hair scrunchies...

This year Michael Kors was one of two fashion designers who made it to Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list. I was lucky enough to interview him just as he launches a brand new capsule beauty collection based on three fragrances Sporty, Sexy and Glam. The range, he explains below, is like a capsule wardrobe for face and body and consists of lust-have beauty staples like the perfect nude lipstick to red and plum glosses, wear-anywhere nudes, and a selection of perfect bronzers, blushers and gleaming body products designed for that all-important just-holidayed-in-the-Hamptons Kors style glow.

Kors believes that when it comes to looking incredible, the lipstick you wear is just as important as the shape of your shoe. So, I asked him to spill his all-time beauty and fashion do’s and don’ts….

On Looking Sexy…

Rule 1: Sexy is all about self confidence not looking ‘plunged to the waist’

MK: Sexiness is all about self confidence. Many people think that sexiness is about wearing a provocative dress or looking plunged to the waist, but to me sexy is more of an attitude or a mood.

A lot of women too often do what’s obvious, wearing the highest shoes they can find, the lowest cut blouse and the shortest skirt. Well, the minute you have shoes on that you can’t walk well in or a skirt that’s so short it rides up and you can’t sit down or the blouse that doesn’t allow you to bend over the table and kiss your boyfriend…all those things are confidence killers.

Take Angelina Jolie, whether she’s on the red carpet or with her kids, wearing leggings and a cashmere tunic, her confidence comes across which to me is modern-sexy rather than pin-up sexy.

Rule 2: ‘Sneaky Sexy’ is best

MK: Sneaky sexy is better – you don’t have to be bare everywhere – if your legs are bare, cover up your top half, or if you are wearing a midriff top, pair it with baggy trousers. There is something to be said for mystery and also comfort. If your dress is too tight and you need five pairs of Spanx to wear it, then perhaps that's not the dress for you!


Rule 3: Have a capsule ‘sexy’ wardrobe

The three fashion items every girl should own...

MK: You have to have a pair of black trousers you love from every angle, that look just as great from the side, the back and the front. You shouldn't have to wear a tunic, or a jacket over them and they work brilliantly with everything from a t-shirt to a bustier.

You also need a pair of stiletto pumps you can walk in that make your legs look a mile long. How high they are depends on how well you can walk in them!

You should also have a little black dress – it doesn’t have to be that little or that bare. The other thing about looking sexy is feeling you're confident enough to have the focus on you. A great black dress is like a picture frame - you notice the woman first and then afterwards you might notice what a great dress she is wearing.

Rule 4: Sexiness starts with skin

MK: I think really beautiful skin is automatically sexy - if you have just a little shine to your shoulder, your shin and your calf. It doesn’t have to be obvious. My Liquid Shimmer Dry Oil Spray, £39, does just that.

On Looking Sporty…

Rule 5: Looking well-rested is ultimately attractive

MK: Everyone’s always running around in a manic panic! I think looking rested, when most of us aren’t, is important. If you look like you just got out of a pool from a swim, or you’ve just taken a bike ride or you took a drive on the weekend with the top down in a convertible and you’ve got that glow about you…. wellbeing is something that works regardless of whether you’re going to a black tie event, the office or a yoga class. I think that’s the starting point to great beauty.

Rule 6 : Beauty should look a touch laid-back

MK: Sportiness just has something about it that’s laid back and in today’s world, you want to be able to have that attitude on a red carpet too. If I think about Gwyneth Paltrow, she will wear her hair exactly the same whether she’s on a red carpet versus if she’s doing a school drop-off. Her make-up stays the same for black tie or if she’s running off to go to work.

A look of easiness is very modern, and I think that’s very much part of my DNA. I also think there should always be something a little undone. For me Lauren Hutton is the grandmother of looking relaxed and easy and I think Kate Moss exemplifies that too – there needs to be something a little undone.

In fact I'll tell you a story about Lauren Hutton - she was a guest of mine at the Met Ball a few years ago, and there aren’t a lot of women in their sixties who would hurt their knee surfing and then two weeks later be in NY in an evening gown. There’s something fearless about her.


Rule 7: Play one fashion item down

MK: Everyone always thinks that relaxed means really casual. I think it’s being able to take whatever you wear and wear one casual thing with it, so if you have a pair of sequined trousers, rather than wearing it with a tuxedo jacket, wear it with a t-shirt. If you put on a long dress to go to a wedding, try it with flat shoes. If you are wearing a glamorous evening gown, wear it with a ponytail. I think you should always downplay one thing.

On the flip side of that, glam up sporty - if you’re wearing a great pair of trainers and your yoga clothes, make it more glamorous by adding a fabulous coat or an amazing handbag.

Rule 8: Replicate a great glow

MK: I like the idea of flushed cheeks. When we were doing the Spring/ Summer 2014 show recently, we had such a variety of girls in the show from Karen Elson with her truly milk white porcelain skin versus an Asian girl, versus another model who was very brown and then another who was really dark. We wanted something to connect them all and I didn’t want to see Karen Elson coffee brown as she’d look insane, so I really liked the idea of looking active instead.

We’ve created a bronzer/ blusher brush, it’s not a small brush or a small compact., it’s so that you can give yourself a quick flick on the T-Zone, a flick on the cheeks and on the collar bone.


Rule 9: Don’t ever wear a hair scrunchie

I hate hair scrunchies – I think they are the most horrible looking thing in the entire world – looks like you have a dirty old sock in your hair. There are transparent hair elastics that work a lot better.

Rule 10: Keep one piece of clothing thing fitted

Even if you’re wearing a pair of baggy sweatpants (which can look great) you need to know you can’t also wear a baggy sweatshirt. Keep one thing fitted somewhere. If you’re wearing big-on-big-on-big it will look shapeless and certainly not active or healthy.

On looking Glam…

Rule 11. Don’t be afraid to get noticed

MK: I think glamour means that you like being noticed and that you don’t want to fly under the radar. In a room of 100 people you want to stand out and make a statement. Take Jennifer Lopez, she is glamorous whether she is wearing jeans or a gown. I’ve seen her with no make-up, jeans and hair pulled into a ponytail and she’s still glamorous as she’s willing to make a statement. Elizabeth Taylor was inherently glamorous whether she was casual or dressed up. It’s that moment when you say ‘I feel like being stared at ‘and ‘I wanna be stared at’ for the best reasons.

It’s the same if you look at the glamorous colours of this make-up collection or wearing a scent - when you wear Glam Jasmin eau de Parfum, £55, you’re not going to be sneaking in the room! And when you think about these burgundies and mauves and fuchsias, you are making a statement. It's the same with wardrobe staples and your black dress or your khaki trench, all of a sudden you get to that gold sweater or those silver shoes and they have impact.


Rule 12: Turn one thing down a notch

Some people think that glamour means over-the-top-ness. I think you have to remember that you always have to turn one thing down a notch, so if you are wearing an outrageously colourful dress and you have metallic shoes on and really bold earrings, that’s great, but maybe your hair needs to be in a ponytail. A big head of hair plus all that is way too much.

Also I think a lot of women pick out crazy lingerie when they want to feel glamorous and the next thing you know, lacy bras are peaking through everywhere and whilst that may be something you want to be glamorous at home in, I don’t think it needs to go to a restaurant.

On the beauty collection...

Rule 13: Use fragrance to change your mood

MK: I’ve come at this collection as someone who can transform your look and your mood. Fragrance changes your mode which is what I love – I love the idea that you can be in your office in London, and it might be snowing or grey outside and if you spray a little Jasmine, suddenly you are in Bali or something.

Rule 14: Use make-up like accessories, focus on 'Lips and Tips'

As far as the make-up is concerned I treat it the way you would fashion accessories – first off you need to start with the base and the base to me is looking flushed or glowy. Then you need to make sure that when you cross your legs in a short skirt your skin has a subtle shimmer. Then it's about really thinking about the things that change your look in the way that a shoe would change your outfit - talking about colour in an edited way, and paying attention to lips and tips, which can really change things.

MORE GLOSS: Michael Kors' Beauty Launch

Rule 15: Have a ‘closet ‘ of make-up

I think of beauty much like the perfect closet – what would be in that closet? You have a perfect black dress - which is the equivalent of the nudes – to an outrageous gold evening gown which is really what the glam palette is all about, and then you put on a sexy red dress which is the red lipstick of the fashion world.

The Michael Kors Beauty Collection is available at House of Fraser stores now. Prices start at £15 for a Nail Lacquer and go up to £39 for the Liquid Shimmer Dry Oil Spray


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