Michael Kors, that bastion of jet-set chic—blond hair, perpetual tan, gold-rimmed aviators, and a billion-dollar brand with his name on it—is in fact quite a homebody. In the four decades since he moved to Manhattan from Merrick, Long Island, to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, the designer has only ever lived downtown. “People are always like, ‘Oh, Michael Kors. The uptown ladies!’ ” he says in the light-filled media room of his and husband Lance Le Pere’s Greenwich Village penthouse. “And the reality is, I’ve always been a downtown boy.”
He launched his business in 1981 out of a modest apartment in Chelsea—the living room accessorized with sewing machines. “There were initials on the fire escape that read hs, so we used to say, ‘It’s High Society!’ ” he deadpans. After that, he moved to West 28th Street, on a block known for its wholesale shops. “We would tell people, ‘We’re between fur and flowers.’ ” (His ability to put a glamorous spin on things started early.) But he’s been a dedicated Villager since 1983: “I’ve moved numerous times, but always within a five-block radius.”
Of course, a lot can happen within the distance of a few city blocks. As Kors’s business has skyrocketed, so too have the scale and ambition of his homes. The current apartment, which has been fully customized down to the hidden sliding doors that allow it to morph from open and loftlike to fully compartmentalized, reads as a two-bedroom in plan, though categorizing it as such would be a gross understatement. Plus, it’s wrapped by a lush terrace beyond which lie unobstructed views south to the World Trade Center, west to the Hudson River, and yonder in every direction. Kors quite literally has the world at his feet.
In typical Korsian fashion, he carries it off without any pomp. “Michael knew me more for my work in retail,” says AD100 architect S. Russell Groves, who has collaborated with Kors and Le Pere on three previous spaces. “But what really attracted his eye was a small house I had in East Hampton. He said the combination of very clean with touches of warmth and texture was exactly what they were looking for.”
“We wanted a casual formality,” says Kors, “that tug-of-war between practicality and indulgence, comfort and rigor. If it’s all one or the other, I’m bored. I can appreciate walking into a room that’s magnificent and formal the same way I can appreciate someone in an infanta gown with serious hair and makeup, but at the end of the day both Lance and myself are too relaxed and too American to actually live that way. If I could live my life barefoot, I would be in heaven.”
From Architectural Digest