A designer of classically conventional American fashion, Kors has become a household name since his turn as the resident bitch on Project Runway.

Long Island native Kors says he was first inspired to become a designer by his glamorous mother, a former model. In the mid-'70s he dropped out of FIT after a year to design for the New York boutique, Lothars. The line caught the attention of a buyer from Bergdorf's, and in 1981 the Michael Kors label was launched at Bergdorf's and Saks. But the road to fame and fortune wasn't quick and easy by any stretch: Kors struggled to keep his line afloat during the '80s and was eventually forced to file for bankruptcy protection in 1991. He went on to serve as women's ready-to-wear designer for LVMH-owned Celine in the '90s, and later became creative director for the house. But in 2003, Kors ventured out on his own again and today is responsible for several highly successful clothing lines. An industry vet known for his all-American designs- à la Bill Blass or Calvin Klein- Kors earned the sort of mainstream fame that had always eluded him with the debut of Project Runway, becoming a fan favorite with his snarky witticisms.

Kors married his longtime partner Lance LePere in 2011. [Image via Getty]