June 2, 2011 — -- Michael Kors might be the hottest name in fashion today. His company reached $1 billion last year in retail sales and his business empire continues to expand as he taps into menswear and accessories, from sunglasses to shoes. Here are seven surprising facts you may not have known about this Long Island-born fashion superstar and celebrity judge on Project Runway.
1. He starred in a Lucky Charms cereal commercial when he was four years old. Kors thought he was going to be an actor since he loved theater, movies and music. He even took some acting lessons in Manhattan. "But I looked around my acting classes. And I thought to myself, "This isn't gonna work…I'm gonna end up waiting tables." He immediately went back to his love of fashion as soon as he got out of acting school.
2. He redesigned his mother's wedding dress when he was five years old. Kors said that her original dress, which she planned to wear for her wedding to her second husband, had excessive ornaments. "I was like…..I don't know about the bows. Not so good. Clean it up…..And the next thing I knew, she was actually listening to me." His mother, Joan Kors, said that "he designed the whole wedding. He told my mother what to wear, how to cut her hair, we all listened to him…..You could tell that he really knew what he was talking about."
3. His big secret to his success is that he loves women. His mother said that Kors loves working with women and seeing them "wearing clothes that make them happy." Kors does what he does every day, she said, because he wants to "make a women feel wonderful." Kors said that the greatest compliment he ever hears is, "when a women will say, 'Well, I loved how I looked and I actually, you know, could sit and move in my garment.'"
4. He was bullied as a child. Kors said that he was called "every name in the book." As a child, he was more interested in drawing and sketching than playing sports like the other boys in his school or camp. He said he was very fortunate that he had a supportive family, who encouraged him to continue to draw and sketch. "It's very confusing because you feel totally at ease and comfortable at home. And then you go to school and you don't necessarily feel that way." He is currently involved in a national campaign to help and inspire gay teens and other teens facing harassment called the "It Gets Better Project." "If my story can help, you know, a 12-year old who's having a hard time and to make people realize, 'You know what? There is a light at the end of the tunnel.'"
5. He started a plus-size line of clothes. His various collections have clothes to fit every shape and size, from a size two to fuller-figured women. "If a designer's good at what they do, you should be able to get everybody dressed…..and you should still be able to look fantastic," Kors said. "I actually enjoy dressing people of all ages, all sizes."
6. The 1990's was a tough time in his career. Kors said that he thought the '90's would be a promising time for his business. Instead, he encountered a combination of his business facing financial problems as well as a failing economy. "It was a domino effect….And then the next thing you knew, it was all about nose rings and ugly. I mean, it was a trifecta of a nightmare for me." He said that the most important thing he learned during this period was to be true to himself. "The customer will appreciate that," he said, "and they will stick through thick or with you if you do that."
7. He makes mistakes all the time when he designs his clothes -- and he's happy about it. "If you don't make the mistakes, you'll never go forward….you will just be stuck," Kors said. "I've definitely done things that…..and I don't regret any of them. I really don't." He said he's gotten bad reviews for past collections, but he's learned to move on. "You can't cry. You've gotta get onto the next collection."