His mother, with whom he is close, is a former model who lives in Los Angeles, so on his trips to California, he doesn’t get to the Bay Area often. On the morning of the fashion show, he toured the Presidio and took pictures for his Facebook page, went to the Haight (“I was ready for Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin to walk by”) and then to the Castro, to see if anything had changed since the filming of “Milk,” and stopped in a little shop where he bought antique French linen ribbon in the color of hemp, “just because it was beautiful.”His visit had obligations, of course. A day after the fashion show sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue, there was a trunk show at the store, a luncheon and a private dinner. He loves the diversity of San Francisco’s populace, the distinct neighborhoods, the food, and, of course, the bay. “I’m a water freak,” he said. “To be surrounded by water on every vista? Sign me up!”
The minuses of the fashion biz? The daily grind, he said, feeling like “a hamster in a wheel.” The day after a collection hits the catwalk, he goes away for a few days, and then starts over again, four times a year.”Project Runway,” the reality show that pits emerging designers against one another for a cash prize and a spread in Marie Claire magazine, is valuable for educating the public about the “alchemy of fashion,” as he put it. “They start with nothing and end up with something at the end of each show; you get to see the work. And there’s a lot of work that goes into each challenge.”Two Bay Area designers were among the contestants this season: Amy Sarabi of Oakland, eliminated mid-series, and Jay Nicolas Sario of San Francisco, who nearly made it to the finals. Kors liked Sario’s innovation, while the show’s host, former supermodel Heidi Klum, and Elle fashion director Nina Garcia were less impressed.
“Jay, I thought, was really great – really sophisticated,” Kors said. “His clothes were exciting but wearable at the same time, not an easy thing to pull off.”Kors’ own fall collection, with cashmere and coats for everything from skiing to work to weekend wear, cocktail party attire and red-carpet glamour, emphasizes “laid-back luxury – there’s a sportiness, but it is also indulgent.”His camel coats contain metal in the fabric to give the cashmere a crushed look, “to look tailored and divine, but lived in,” he said. Coats, he said, are one of the most important pieces in a wardrobe.