With his close-cropped hair, burly build and penchant for T-shirts and jeans, all-American fashion designer Michael Kors could easily be mistaken for a Silicon Valley software programmer or the catcher on your company’s softball team.But thanks to his 30-year career and a starring role on TV’s hit series “Project Runway,” Kors is recognized the world over by fashionistas, businessmen at airports and even vacationers in Bali. A little over a week ago, more than 600 well-heeled fans crowded the Westin St. Francis hotel on Union Square, paying $175 or more to see him – and his fluid, coats-and-cashmere-filled fall 2010 collection – at the San Francisco Ballet’s annual fundraising fashion show.
Several hundred of them paid even more – $750 each – to join him at a private post-show dinner at the hotel. A live auction of six items garnered more than $100,000 for the cause, including a winning $30,000 bid by philanthropist (and former ballet dancer) Nicola Miner for a trip for two to the taping of the “Project Runway” Season 8 finale in New York. (The entire evening was to have raised about $300,000 for the Ballet and its programs.)”I’ve seen every episode of every season, but don’t print that,” Miner, slightly embarrassed about her viewing habits, said after the show.Kors’ clothing projects easy, sporty elegance. On TV, he can come across as opinionated and slightly harsh. But in a pre-show interview at his suite at the Ritz-Carlton, he seemed as relaxed as his designs, and funny, too, relaying anecdotes about compulsive shopping on vacations, doing impressions of the late Bill Blass and of Valentino, and joking about overindulging at a Tommy Toy’s lunch.