Norma Kamali at STORY
Against the backdrop of jersey essentials from her versatile KamaliKulture collection, Norma Kamali joined STORY's Rachel Shechtman in conversation Tuesday evening on topics of creative pursuits, olive oil and female objectification. Known for being the creator of stylish swimwear, high-heeled sneakers and multifunctional jersey pieces, Kamali spoke of life influences and outcomes... and how working in the airline industry after college reinvigorated her interest in fashion. Sporting a jean jacket and skinny pants (both black), it's difficult to imagine that the designer is 67!
A parachute dress by Norma Kamali from 1974, photo graphed by Mark Seliger // 1977 Cosmopolitan Magazine featuring Kamali's "pull bikini"
Candidly, Kamali touches on her humble beginnings as a designer with a basement storefront furnished from the Salvation Army. Within 10 years, she graced the fashion industry with the sleeping bag jacket, parachute clothing and the "pull" bikini. After 9/11, Kamali added a wellness component to her clothing empire which centered around olive oil. When asked about her use of "timeless fashion" to describe the year-old KamaliKulture line, the designer shared that she wore vintage styles every day in the 70s and thought the clothing of the 30's had the perfect fit. In designing a "timeless" collection, her goal was to create clothing that people would wear 30 years in the future. The current KamliKulture line contains 6 styles designed in 1973! '
Norma Kamali and Rachel Shechtman
Other questions revealed that the designer's favorite color is red, her favorite food is olive oil and that she recommends CALM (the magnesium powder) after a stressful day. With quite a legacy of experiences, Kamali continues to command success through balancing her personal principles and business model. Though I wasn't too familiar with the Norma Kamali brand before the talk (other than seeing NK for Walmart ads), I commend the designer for being one of the few well spoken and modest designers I've heard! Admirably so, the designer is one down-to-earth gal, speaking with passion about female objectification and urging both men and women to talk and increase awareness of the problem. Currently, Kamali speaks on the radio and at corporations, schools and public forums on the topic.