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Joan Kors, a True Designer Influencer, Dies at 84

Mother, muse and former brand ambassador of design- er Michael Kors. Joan Kors, 84, died peacefully of heart failure at her home in Los An- geles on August 5, 2023. She was well known to many in the fashion world as the mother of designer Michael Kors. Ms. Kors was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised on Long Island, where she graduated from Far- mingdale High School.

She started modeling at the age of 18 in both print advertising and runway shows. She later became a house model at the House of Revlon in New York City. She stopped modeling in the early 1960s to become a stay-at-home mother and homemaker. Ms. Kors worked as an executive assis- tant at a law firm in New York through much of the 1970s. She moved to Los An- geles in 1977 to begin a new career in the home textiles in- dustry, joining her father, Austin Hamburger, a long- time veteran in the home tex- tile world. In the early 1980s, she started her own firm, de- signing and manufacturing a variety of decorative pillows, placemats and napkins. Her home textile collection was called “At Home with Joan Kors.” Her products were dis- tributed to a wide range of US specialty and department stores, including Bullocks, ABC Home and Gumps, amongst others.

She exited the home textile world in the early 1990s to join her son, Mi- chael Kors, at his fashion firm as the West Coast brand am- bassador. In this role she traveled extensively to events and trunk shows, meeting clients and hosting in-store events. Ms. Kors be- came a fixture at Mr. Kors’ fashion shows and events, both in New York and, during his time as Creative Director at Celine, in Paris. She conti- nued in this post until she re- tired in 2009. Ms. Kors was a lifetime animal lover and supporter of human rights. “My mother was an icono- clast in so many ways. She was strong and independent and definitely forged her own path. She raised me as a single mom and her life ran the gamut from young fash- ion model to athlete to home furnishings designer. She was the first woman to attempt to try out for the NFL when she went for an open tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1974,” said Michael Kors. “She was a great supporter and a constant source of inspira- tion.” Ms. Kors is survived by her son Michael, her son-in- law Lance Le Pere, and her brother James Hamburger.

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