DESIGNER FLASH FEATURING NORMA KAMALI DESIGNER FLASH FEATURING NORMA KAMALI

Designer Flash

DESIGNER FLASH FEATURING NORMA KAMALI

FEATURING NORMA KAMALI

BY: HAL RUBENSTEIN

In an industry with the attention span of an eight- year-old let loose in a video arcade, Norma Kamali has remained cool, vital, desirable, and relevant for over five decades. I repeat - FIVE DECADES.

Even more remarkable is that the designer’s key to such enviable longevity isn’t even a secret. Speak with her for five minutes and its obvious Norma has succeeded for so long because she trusts her senses, instincts, desires, and goals so completely that she’s hardly tempted to look over her shoulder. This dynamic woman only looks forward. But before scanning the next horizon for what is fresh but not foolish, Norma listens to and watches out for other women, seeking to elevate both new and devoted customers not just with clothing, but with vital incorporations and initiatives that incorporate health, focus, and elevated self-esteem.

According to Norma, what works for you right now is what ultimately matters and best enhances your life. Such pragmatic vision instigated the creation of her iconic Athleisurewear twenty years before Lululemon helped brand the name. It had her transferring her classic long down coats from ski slopes to city streets and devising bathing maillots that actually flatter. Norma wasn’t doing it simply to make waves but to insure that women felt warmer, more comfortable and satisfied. The way Gabriel & Co. sees her; Normal Kamali is Joan of Arc with a thimble and a wardrobe every woman can love.

THE INTERVIEW

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HR: What makes you so damned smart when it comes to fashion?

NK: I learned early on that timeless classic clothing was the biggest and best investment a woman can make for herself and her wardrobe. She can have them forever as they span across trend after trend and whatever else you are going through. Timeless clothing, like timeless accessories, adapts.

HR: Is it simply these silhouettes we’ve photographed and styled that make clothes timeless?

NK: No, it’s equally about clothes satisfying real life needs. That’s why I don’t pretend to be on safari in Africa or vacationing in Bali when designing clothes. I created my (forever copied) sleeping bag coat because I had a boyfriend who was into camping. We even had a van that said, “Keep on Truckin’”. My iconic sweatshirt dress came about because I was a swimmer and whenever I got out of the pool I couldn’t find anything else to wear but a man’s sweatshirt from an Army Navy store. So I made my own, and almost immediately I realized the fabric would feel amazing as a jacket, pants, a coat, even a gown. Remember, when I did this, there were no casual clothes that looked like that or felt good. It made me a global brand.

Ease and accessibility always makes fashion more fun. That’s why I love using jewelry. In fact, I collect jewelry from old Hollywood films. I love the sound of it, the feel of it. Jewelry is so feminine and fun. Like these Gabriel pieces on this tray, they’re so light and happy, and go so effortlessly with everything of mine that you’re shooting. That’s what so special about jewelry. You can make your look unique without adding a lot.

-Norma Kamali

HR: You broke a lot of rules of style in your career. There don’t seem to be any rules left to break today. What are the plusses and minuses to today’s blanket fashion freedom?

NK: I like it. I think it’s cool that you can get out of bed in what you wore last night while eating pizza. That doesn’t mean I would do it. We all have our own etiquette. But I’m old enough to remember the tyranny girdles and bras, matching gloves and hats and there was nothing worse than that. It was a form of fashion slavery for women. Now you can develop your own attitude whether it’s sneakers with a suit or your really pretty diamond drop earrings to accessorize a pullover. As you can see in my clothes, I will always opt for clothes that possess movement and ease and celebrate body consciousness. But you can do what you like. I thrive on this disruption of the norm.

HR: The young women on our team have flipped for your clothes on this shoot – their shape, their fluid sexiness, their lack of age categorization, and to be honest, the way, all of it looks so good with our jewelry.

NK: Ease and accessibility always makes fashion more fun. That’s why I love using jewelry. In fact, I collect jewelry from old Hollywood films. I love the sound of it, the feel of it. Jewelry is so feminine and fun. Like these Gabriel pieces on this tray, they’re so light and happy, and go so effortlessly with everything of mine that you’re shooting. That’s what so special about jewelry. You can make your look unique without adding a lot.

Sometimes something minimal but distinctive, that isn’t elaborate but feels organic, can be that one perfect piece that you add that suddenly has your look proclaiming, “This is me!” “This is how I roll.” That’s how fashion should always work. What could be better than picking up a pair of earrings like Gabriel’s hoops here, putting them on, and then saying, “You know, I never have to take these off. They’re perfect. They're me.” No matter what we make, that’s what every designer dreams of.”

NORMA’S TIPS FOR THE LESS STRESSFUL BRIDE-TO-BE

Leave the wedding party home. You don’t need to shop with your mother, siblings, the maid of honor and mother of the groom – there are too many opinions to go round, especially if you aren’t even sure what you want.

Choose one person you can trust and confide in. It could be a relative, a friend, a sales person, as long as you can create a frank, honest dialogue instead of a group discussion.

Start meditating. I’m not kidding. There are a number of meditations that I would recommend for the upcoming bride to handle this period. But the truth is, marriage has its own trials, so as soon as that ring goes on your finger, never stop meditating.

You can Google her birthdate if you like. A gentleman never asks or tells. But know this, Norma Kamali is a knockout because she radiates an ageless beauty that is undeniable. She credits her appearance to many factors but mainly to two things.

Wellness - Self-esteem - We are living in a time that has finally exploded with the dangers inherent in objectification. Every woman reading this has been touched by it. It’s not enough for women to stand up for themselves. We need to speak with the men and fathers and brothers and male friends in our lives who care about us and make them our biggest advocates. And they will because they love you. If we can change this behavior, and achieve this big step in understanding, women will become even freer and more beautiful. I look forward to a time when we can put on great clothes we love, and jewelry we adore, not so that others will see us as more attractive, but because we are so happy to be ourselves.”

Self-esteem - We are living in a time that has finally exploded with the dangers inherent in objectification. Every woman reading this has been touched by it. It’s not enough for women to stand up for themselves. We need to speak with the men and fathers and brothers and male friends in our lives who care about us and make them our biggest advocates. And they will because they love you. If we can change this behavior, and achieve this big step in understanding, women will become even freer and more beautiful. I look forward to a time when we can put on great clothes we love, and jewelry we adore, not so that others will see us as more attractive, but because we are so happy to be ourselves.”

#GABRIELNY
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