Designer Michael Kors visits St. Louis to talk fashion history

5 On Your Side sat down one-on-one with the household fashion name to discuss the St. Louis Fashion Fund and reclaiming the city’s garment district.

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Fashion Fund is celebrating 10 years in operation. The group was formed to reclaim the city’s garment district, which was one of the country’s top fashion centers until World War II.

To mark the anniversary, luxury designer Michael Kors visited here with his husband, Lance LePere, who is from Belleville.

5 On Your Side’s Annie Krall sat down one-on-one with the household fashion name to talk more about the legacy and history of fashion in St. Louis. Louis.

Kors told Krall that when he started judging the now-hit show “Project Runway” back in 2004, he didn’t think it would be so successful. Yet, as Kors spoke to Washington University students on Monday at the Graham Chapel, being a designer is a lot like making a cake. Kors compared it to looking at a group of ingredients, having an idea, and making something beautiful.

The designer spent a large part of the hour-long Q&A on campus discussing the start of his iconic fashion line in the 1980s. Sewing with his colleagues in his New York apartment living room.

“One of my seamstresses was a lady who had a beautiful British accent,” Kors shared with the 850-person audience. “I would make her answer the phone. So she was, sewing and the phone would come up,” Kors said as he mimicked answering the phone. “Hello Michael Kors,” in a British accent which got a laugh and round of applause from the St. Louis assembly.

Now making history for the city is Shrewsbury native and moderator Derek Blasberg who was YouTube’s first head of fashion beginning in 2018. He has now become a trendy tastemaker covering and working with the likes of Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Lawrence and fellow St. Louis native Karlie Kloss.

“Fashion is a language and it’s the way that we communicate,” Blasberg told 5 On Your Side. “We all say the same thing. We all put our pants on one leg at a time but deciding what kind of pants, if they’re pants, what if they’re not pants? Says a lot about who you are.”

“The St. Louis Fashion Fund has emphasized the fact that you don’t have to go to New York, you don’t have to go to LA to be a fashion designer,” Krall asked Kors. “What does that mean to you?”

“I think you can do that anywhere in the world,” Kors said. “If you’ve got a great idea and you know how to sell yourself on social media and get your ideas and your designs out there, I think you could be in a small town in North Dakota.”

“We want to keep the young creatives in St. Louis,” Susan Sherman, co-founder of the St. Louis Fashion Fund. “We want them to build and scale brands here. If we’re not here to support, if the investment is not here, they’re going to go to the coast, Nashville or Austin or umpteen other places.”

Young creatives like Sydney Goldstein who is a Wash U senior and New York native was sporting her mom’s 1995 Michael Kors jacket. One that the designer recognized immediately when he met Goldstein on Monday morning.

The multi-talented art and business student who helped put on the trunk show on campus in tandem with the STL Fashion Fund celebration listened especially closely to Kors’s advice about artistic opportunities here in St. Louis in the digital age.

“It’s been my home for four years,” Goldstein said. “I’ll always have a place here and be part of building back that industry here has been special beyond words.”

St. Louis Mayor Tishuara Jones was at the fashion event this week as well. She issued a proclamation, saying that April 1, 2024, is now “Michael Kors Day in St. Louis.”

To get involved with other events or donate to the St. Louis Fashion Fund click here.