Michael Kors has a fascinating history in fashion. What is often forgotten, is the fact that before building his own brand into the empire that it is now, Kors was responsible for changing and revolutionising Celine from the late 90’s into the early noughties. From working at Lothar’s as a full time designer at 19 to having his own designs in the Bergdorf Goodman window display by age 22 Kors paved his way through the industry with great influence. Michael Kors era Celine is a beloved favourite here at Irvrsbl so we only see it fit to do Kors justice by reporting on his time there and how he turned the company around after Celine Vipiana’s death.
Believe it or not, the Celine House was origninally a children’s footwear boutique back in 1945. By 1966, Vipiana had established a leather goods factory in Florence with which she would begin a line of handbags. Fast forward 30 years to 1996, when Celine saw itself bought over by luxury fashion giants LVMH in a deal worth around $540 million (USD). At this stage, Celine herself was still the company’s creative director. Just one year later, she passed away and Michael Kors was named her successor. At the time, Marc Jacobs had recently become Louis Vuitton’s creative director and Narcisco Rodriguez, Loewe’s creative director. Having three Americans take over these European brands around the same time immediately put them in competition with one another and instantly, Celine was deemed on par with the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dior.
For Fall 1998, Kors presented his debut collection with Celine, featuring effortless cashmere, beautiful cuts and sportswear separates. This collection changed the way people saw Celine as the brand had not yet established their mark on ready-to-wear. The pieces in this collection were not dis-similar from Kors’ own line which worked in Celine’s favour in terms of sales. Not long after this collection was released, Celine Dion wore one of his dresses performing My Heart Will Go On at the Oscars, furthering the brands success.
Kors continued to have a successful reign at Celine whilst also juggling his own rapidly growing brand, going back and forth between New York and Paris. “I switch between a baseball cap and a beret with great ease,” Kors was quoted saying in a 1998 interview with The Observer. In 2004, Kors stepped down after Celine’s success began to decline to focus on his own lines. Kors also felt as though LVMH was not looking after it’s smaller brands, like his own.
After Kors’ departure, Celine struggled to find a creative director to successfully take his place and it was evident that he left a huge hole in the company. Roberto Menichetti took Michael’s place immediately after but lasted only a year with no success. Menichetti was followed by Ivana Omazic who was also unable to revive the brand but stayed for several years until Celine’s golden child, Phoebe Philo came into power in 2007. Despite Phoebe’s immense fame and success with Celine, without Michael putting the brand back on the map, Philo’s reign might not have been possible. So here’s to Michael and his revolutionising time spent at the helm of Celine.
Take a look at Irvrsbl's selection of vintage Celine pieces online here.