NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Kors has a message and it goes like this: "Forget your troubles, come on get happy, you better chase all your cares away!"
So sang Rufus Wainwright to live accompaniment on Kors' runway Wednesday as models walked in optimistic florals, swingy ruffles and comfy wide-legged pants for spring.
The designer and the singer, a Judy Garland aficionado, hugged and ran a lap along the winding path at a downtown space after Wainwright belted "Get Happy" and other show tunes for the fashion crowd. And it was happy.
"I'm an optimist, and when I thought about it I was kind of thinking, well what do I really think is missing in the world, and I think romance is missing," said Kors of his sexy, strong collection dominated by florals, in nutmeg, and bright pinks and greens.
"In today's world there's this hybrid, that I think women want to feel empowered but flirty and feminine at the same time, so I thought about powerful romance and how do we have the best of both worlds?"
Kors was thinking about that old chestnut, "'She's a real dame,'" he explained in an interview. "We think about actresses like Barbara Stanwyck and Katharine Hepburn back in the '40s and Kim Basinger in the '80s. These women were sly and feminine but they were definitely in control."
He delivered that attitude in sharp tailoring of shoulders and cinched waists, mixed with things like a wide-belted trench coat with an asymmetrical hem, pleated palazzo pants and shoulder-to-wrist rows of ruffles on the sleeves of one collared, see-through button-down blouse.
"Something that catches the breeze," Kors said.
And he paid homage to his muses, naming some bags models carried after Stanwyck and others.
Kors, bending to the "see now, buy now" trend, made some looks immediately available, but most of the collection he called timeless, the "opposite of fast fashion."
That was true of navy blue coats, day dresses and sparkly black eveningwear. It might not be true of little bra top and romper sets in browns, or oversized sleeves flopping over hands.
Impulse buy or investment, the fashion seasons are officially blurred, Kors said.
"More and more we see that our customers don't pay attention to the seasons anyway," Kors said. "People wear boots in the summer, sandals in the winter. People travel. There's no time of day or night."
So, is Kors a romantic?
"I am a romantic at heart," he said. "I cry at a television commercial if it's the right one. Music wells me up, the right movie wells me up, and I think that, you know, it's also just, let's slow up a little. Let's appreciate things, know where we are."
Associated Press writer Nicole Evatt contributed to this report.