It’s better to give than to receive, as they say. The time-honoured tradition of gift-giving is as old as mankind itself, dating back to pre-civilization. However, choosing the perfect gift requires an intimate knowledge of the person the gift is intended for, a generous measure of good taste, and a certain shopping savvy. If anyone has what it takes, it’s these five trailblazers of art, culture, fashion, and design: Niccolo Ricci, Michael Kors, Sevan Agopian, Paolo Fazioli, Mathilde Thomas. From ponies to psychedelic jumpsuits, these visionaries fess up on gift successes (and fails), special memories, enduring holiday traditions, and share their best gift-giving tips.
Interviewee: Michael Kors
Occupation: CEO of the Michael Kors brand of men’s and women’s fashions and accessories
Home Town: Long Island, New York
Michael David Kors is an American fashion designer, the honorary chairman and chief creative officer of his brand, Michael Kors. From 1997 to 2004, Kors also served as creative director of Céline, the renowned French luxury brand. The appointment was notable as only few American designers had headed up French brands.
What’s the most successful gift you’ve ever given?
That’s a tough one because sometimes small gifts get a lot of praise—I like to give something personal, like monogrammed matches or stationery. Gifts that you get to experience with someone, like a vacation or concert, is something they’ll remember for years to come. And of course, when in doubt, everybody loves cashmere.
What’s the most unforgettable gift you’ve ever received?
A few years ago, my mom gave me photo albums with pictures from my childhood—having those memories preserved forever was really special.
Are you good at choosing gifts for other people?
I am now. When I was growing up, I once gave my mom a psychedelic palazzo jumpsuit for the holidays. It was completely fabulous but something she would never wear. I learned quickly that the key to gift-giving is that it has to be all about them, not all about you. I redeemed myself with a really luxurious tote that my mom used for years.
Any special traditions you have for important holidays?
In terms of traditions, I used to love to spend the holidays with my family, cooking and eating my grandmother’s potato latkes and butter cookies. And my family loved to shop, so exchanging gifts was always a highlight.
What advice would you give to our readers on giving gifts?
The best gifts walk the line between glamorous and practical, like a luxurious bag or a chic watch. They’re something the person can use every day but still feel special.
Read more gift-giving tips from Niccolo Ricci, Sevan Agopian, Paolo Fazioli, Mathilde Thomas.