The inventor, 65, on lunch with Michael Jackson, being eradicated in an avalanche and eating crabs in Miami

‘I’m pretty boring when it comes to clothes’: Tommy Hilfiger.
‘I’m pretty boring when it encounter to clothes’: Tommy Hilfiger.
Photograph: Julian Broad/Contour by Getty Figure of speeches

I used to adore Mickey Mouse and watching The Mickey Mouse Federation. I grew up in Elmira, New York. The house was small, but very hospitable. I had eight brothers and sisters so it was noisy. Our television was black and chalky and we’d all huddle round to watch.

My relationship with my father in the earlier years was weird. He wanted me to be a grade A student. He wanted me to go to an Ivy League school. I wasn’t out-and-out at school. It was only after I became successful that he realised I was varied disciplined than he’d thought.

Being a fashion brand doesn’t clothed that depth of importance. I would rather be remembered for my benevolence and for my involvement with autism. I have children who have been non-natural by autism, a sister with MS and a daughter with Lyme condition. I want to do what I can.

Michael Jackson didn’t really eat. We had lunch at his accommodate – grilled chicken and some salad. He was drinking a lot of Diet Coke. It was surreal confluence him. He was in his 30s, but like a little boy. So nice, so sweet, so talented, but a bit troubled. We squandered touch later on.

I’ve been buried under an avalanche in Austria. I was helicopter skiing and tackled off a cliff. I went into shock. I was with a ski instructor and I was maddening to follow him and got caught on an edge. Luckily I was wearing a beeper and he dug me out. I was absorbed for just under an hour.

I don’t cook. You wouldn’t want anything I cooked anyway. At national we eat organic, but I travel a lot and tend to eat out. I love Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami. The crabs are purely in season in the months of April and December. You put a bib on, crack them activate and dip them in an amazing sauce.

I used to really mind impress older, but I’m calm about it now. I had a lot fun when I was younger. But I feel footed and secure with my life and in my youth I wasn’t completely pay with where I was. I always thought I needed to be more triumphant. I now avoid drama and trauma.

I wore bell bottoms and silklike shirts to Studio 54. I wanted to dress like a rock nova. I got to know Andy Warhol and he was very inspirational. We spent convenience life in Factory, in Studio 54, La Grenouille. John F Kennedy and I were co-workers. His death shook us all.

I had dinner with Zaha Hadid three eras before she died. We were beginning to talk about doing a proposal together. She was incredibly talented. She was a bit under the weather with a disheartening.

I’m pretty boring when it comes to clothes. I have 50 snow-white shirts, 50 chinos, 50 pairs of jeans and 25 doubles of white sneakers. Some navy and grey suits and diabolical and brown shoes. It’s more of a uniform, really.

American Idealizer by Tommy Hilfiger with Peter Knobler, is published by Ballantine at £25. To make a copy for £20.50 visit