Invent the sleeping bag coat and high-heeled sneakers? Check.Design iconic swimwear and make jersey and parachute nylon the fabric of the seventies and
eighties?Check. Partner with mass retailers years before your competitors,
launch a line of olive oil-based beauty and wellness products and make
sports-inspired active wear an everyday part of mainstream culture?Check,
New York native Norma Kamali has done all of the above since founding her eponymous label 41 years ago – and
she was one of the first designers to take to the internet way back in the
nineties, ditching traditional runway shows in favor of online video
presentations as early as 1996 (take that,
Karl Lagerfeld!) and offering a “try before you buy” service to her Web clients.
These days, Kamali, 63, has been making headlines for her recent
collaboration with Wal-Mart,
which features beautifully designed, well-priced women’s, kid’s, home and
wellness collections, created with the motto “Timeless style is everything but
fashion” in mind.
The Fashion Informer sat down with the inspirational CFDA
Award-winning designer (who spends her spare time mentoring New York City
public high school students), to talk books, beaches and breakfast.
What is your idea
of a perfect getaway?
Being near water and warmth with a sketchpad.
all-time favorite work of art?
Anything by Michelangelo – an expressive use of the human form in
stone or paint.
What did you eat
for breakfast this morning?
Green tea and oatmeal.
What would you
like to be doing if you weren't a designer?
What's the biggest
difference between designing your own line and doing a line for an outside
company such as Everlast or Wal-Mart?
None, it has the same integrity.
What are you
currently reading - and would you recommend it to others?
Lincoln by Doris Kearns
Goodwin; it’s the second time.
What is your
favorite time of day?
5AM – Another chance to try to get it right.
Tell me about your
I have very few close friends, but there is not one [I like] more
than the other.They are all
friends for many years.Trust is a
big part of the dynamic.
Do you keep a
I have but I do it at different periods.
What do you see,
right now, when you look up from your computer screen and glance around the
For what would you
like to be remembered?
Why olive oil?
The best oil on the planet: nutritious, medicinal, enhances good
health and beauty and has been used forever.It’s biblical.
What prompted your
decision to start a web site, originally, and what was the inspiration for the
new Skype/social networking initiatives?
I worked for SN Airline in the office in the sixties and I worked on
the first computers, called Univacs.So I had an early introduction to the possibilities and am very
Is there any
difference between the customers who come to the bricks and mortar store and
the customers who shop online, in your experience?
What's your idea
of a perfect summer day?
The sound of the ocean, the warmth of the sun.
What never fails
to make you cry?
The list is too long.
What makes you
New discoveries - some as simple as a new design that made it from
paper to finished product.