Michael Kors to be Honored by Couture Council; Joins the Ranks of Oscar de la Renta and Valentino

Spencer Cain

Today, it was announced that Michael Kors is set to receive some serious recognition for his many accomplishments. The billionaire American sportswear designer will be honored by the Museum at FIT’s Couture Council with the 2013 Artistry of Fashion Award on September 4, reported Women’s Wear Daily.

Such an honor is a major coup for the designer, whose lesser-priced items—think Michael Kors watches and bags—can be considered the foundation on which his empire was built (the Kors label raked in $1.96 billion in revenues last year, FYI.)

While a sportswear designer doesn’t immediately come to mind as a likely recipient of an award given by the Couture Council, it seems Kors is being honored for his overall achievements to fashion. “The committee’s mandate is to look not only at the previous year’s accomplishments, but at a lifetime of contributions to fashion,” Valerie Steele, the director of The Museum at FIT, told WWD.

To fully understand what this honor means, read on:

What exactly is the Couture Council? The prestigious committee is a group dedicated to supporting The Museum at FIT, which frequently curates world-class fashion exhibits, such as showcasing Daphne Guinness‘ infamous couture collection. The council also assists in acquiring significant objects to display, as well as organizes relevant public events—such as the Couture Council Awards Luncheon—which bring in significant funding. It’s at this year’s luncheon that Kors will receive his award.

Who’s been honored in the past? The list includes high-fashion design powerhouses like Ralph Rucci (2006), Alber Elbaz of Lanvin (2007), Isabel Toledo (2008), Dries Van Noten (2009), Karl Lagerfeld (2010), Valentino (2011), and Oscar de la Renta (2012).

What does Kors’ honor mean for sportswear? Kors’ work, though significant, certainly isn’t couture. In fact, the designer tirelessly touts his signature sportswear and its contribution to fashion.

“I’m always happy to wave the flag that design is not strictly haute couture, but that there is something about American sportswear that is such a part of global dressing now,” Kors said. “I think people now realize there is more to American sportswear than jeans and T-shirts. It’s a way of dressing, it’s a way of life, ultimately. It’s not American anymore, it’s global.”

Since Kors is technically the first of his kind to receive the Artistry of Fashion Award, we’re betting on the fact that more significant non-couture designers will follow suit (Proenza Schouler, anyone?).

Our two cents: It’s hard not to celebrate Kors’ achievements. Just a few weeks ago, it was revealed that he topped the list of most sought-after brands online in the U.S., proving his commercial cache. Plus, many forget about the designer’s six-year tenure at French fashion house Céline, which ended in 2003. While there, Kors helped heighten the profile of the label’s accessories—which have continued to skyrocket since his departure.