Looking Back At My First (and longtime) Client: Michael Kors

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“I want to have my own business within five years”.


That was my mantra when I moved to New York City in 1984.

I had completed my studies in Art & Architecture at the Rhode Island School of Design in the Spring of that year, and with the enthusiasm and naivete of youth I moved to the big city with big ambitions!

Boldly going forth without giving this saying a passing thought;


“Be careful what you wish for!”


In late Summer of 1987 a young fashion designer asked me to design the new offices and showroom for his growing company: His name was Michael Kors, and he was my first client…

Michael had had an auspicious beginning in 1978 with his very first account Bergdorf-Goodman.


While the garment business is not easy (or as glamorous as it looks from the outside) Michael was talented, tenacious and had a dream!  He was immediately recognized as a talent to watch by fashion insiders.

It was a very big deal for this new hot young fashion designer to be moving to a large new base of operations, and it was Michael’s first opportunity to create a public expression of his design aesthetic in built form.

The space was off the beaten track of the Garment District, but it was a full floor and 10,000 square feet; the vision was ambitious, the budget modest.

The 1980’s were an optimistic period as evidenced by the lavish spending we witnessed in New York City; the business world was humming along at a very strong pace.  It was the spirit of this optimism combined with the naivete of  youth that I quit my job at Rafael Vinoly Architects, and with a $ 5,000 deposit from Michael Kors (and no savings) I jumped into starting a design business.

I was fortunate to find a design assistant fresh out of Parson’s named Cary Brown, signed a lease on a very small space in a run down building on lower Broadway – South of Canal, West of Chinatown, East of Tribeca and not close to much of anything.

I recently ran across some personal ‘historical documents’ from the days before starting my business – prepared on an old portable typewriter outlining my ‘start-up’ costs, as well as a document that outlined estimated project budgets (with no estimate about projected revenue).  In hindsight, I had a lot to learn, and there were many harsh lessons ahead…




Start music from JAWS….


In late October, approximately three weeks after I ‘hung out my shingle’ there was a  major event in the global financial markets know as Black Monday.

Stock markets around the world crashed – with many an eminent economists predicting that the next few years would be the most troubled since the Great Depression of the 1930’s.

I moved forward.




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We have worked on many projects since the early days of the 80’s – including my recent design of his New York City home – and today Michael Kors is a global brand that is taking the world by storm with no end in sight.  I am grateful to say I have been a witness to his success, and wish him all the best in the future!

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3 Responses to Looking Back At My First (and longtime) Client: Michael Kors

  1. Mary Pezzaro says:

    Hi Glenn,
    The story about beginning your design firm conjures up that wonderful quote from Eudora Welty, “All serious daring starts from within.” Clearly you not only had the daring, but also the persistence and talent to succeed.
    Mary Pezzaro

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