Fashion designer Michael Kors' aesthetic is all about contradictions. "I like hot weather clothes mixed with cold weather clothes," he said a couple of years ago. "A big camel turtleneck over shorts, beaded pants worn with a casual top, and gold jewelry with a bathing suit."
The same philosophy applies to his new beauty line, a collaboration with the Estée Lauder Companies that includes three fragrances, color cosmetics and body care products. The line, which hit Macy's stores last month, is grouped into three collections: Sporty, Sexy and Glam. But don't assume that they are intended for three distinct personality types.
"It's not three lines made for three different women," says Kors. "It's one made for the different moods a woman experiences, often all in one day."
Kors equates the development of the beauty line with the process he uses to create a fashion collection.
"When I start designing a [fashion] collection, there is always that sexy element, that sporty element, that glam element," Kors says. "So I started to think about it, and I really wanted to do something that was more of a collection — a beauty and fragrance wardrobe. We cover all the aspects of a woman's life in our clothes and accessories: There's the camel coat, the white pant suit, the sexy black dress. So why not do that in beauty and fragrance form?"
The Kors line includes lipsticks and glosses, nail lacquers and bronzing powders, but notably missing are eye makeup and foundation.
"I was really focused on the different moods a woman experiences during the day and how, just like she'd change her clothes, she should be able to change her makeup and fragrance," Kors says. "Your concealer isn't going to change. But your lip color, your nails — those are more 'fashion' beauty. They instantly show off your personality and your mood. They help you express yourself. They're the fun part."
Highlighting that healthy bronzed glow that Kors is known for, self-tanner, after-sun products, shimmery dry oil spray and shimmer bath beads round out the collection.
These build on his cult product, the Michael Kors Leg Shine bronzing stick, which launched in 2002.
"Who doesn't want great legs?" Kors says. "I think the West Coast has always inspired me, to an extent, because of the blend of beach and city. I've always said there's nothing more glamorous than looking like you've just returned from a vacation. The idea of swimming-pool-to-black-tie in 20 minutes is so California."
"L.A. will always be like a second home for me," he continues. His mother, Joan Kors, has lived in Los Angeles for more than 30 years; his grandparents also lived here and he visited them while growing up. Both his mother and grandmother helped inspire the new beauty line.
"Sporty with my mom and Glam with my grandmother," says Kors. "Two different moods and both L.A. women. ... [My mother] is all about solid colors and clean lines, and when I was growing up, she always wore fresh, citrus fragrances like Aliage [by Estée Lauder]. Then there was my grandmother, who would change bathing suits three times a day, and she loved scents like Joy," the Bulgarian rose-and-jasmine fragrance by Parisian haute couture designer Jean Patou.
Kors' new Sporty Citrus fragrance has notes of orange and mandarin with woods and white florals. Sexy Amber features amber mingling with sandalwood, musk, mandarin and white florals, and Glam Jasmine combines several varieties of jasmine with woods and citrus. Although Kors is known to have a fondness for white florals, two of these fragrances explore fresh realms.
"I've always loved jasmine and rose and white flowers," says Kors. "But, when we were doing a blind test at the beginning of the process, they brought out the orange flower and the citrus notes. And I just thought that was very fresh, that it could work for daytime, for running around town. And if you just happened to wear it to the gym, it could work there too. Then there was the sandalwood and the amber. Those were incredibly sexy — there's this depth and this confidence that comes across with those scents."
Although this is Kors' first full-blown beauty collection, it is by no means his first foray into beauty. He has developed more than half a dozen fragrances, since his first signature women's fragrance debuted in 2000. And in 2010, Kors introduced the limited-edition Very Hollywood color cosmetics collection with Estée Lauder, developed with friend Aerin Lauder.
"It really got my gears turning in the beauty department," he says.
What about a Kors men's grooming line?
"Right now, there is no men's line in the works," he says, "but I never say never."