5 Minutes With Infamous Fashion Designer Norma Kamali

New York-based designer Norma Kamali has been a firm fixture on the fashion scene since the ‘70s. After all, she knows glamour inside and out.

She was the woman behind that iconic red swimsuit worn by Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels in 1976, and has beed an editorial and red carpet favorite with the likes of Christy Turlington and Carrie Otis through to Alessandra Ambrosio, Rihanna, Beyonce and the Kardashian/Jenner clan all donning the label.

Yes, there are full length dresses, complete with ruffles ideal for swishing, then there’s the sexy high-necks and cutout backs to show a dash of skin.

Kamali’s short numbers ramp up the flirtiness further and are in the form of bandeau dresses, easy breezy v-neck slips and semi demure sweetheart-neckline jersey dresses (with a cheeky side split of course).

And the glamour doesn’t just apply to the cuts, the fabrics and prints carry on the theme too, cue sequins, velvet, chiffon, faux-leather and leopard print aplenty.

Oh, and let’s not forget the silhouette of the ‘70, the jumpsuit which is a collection staple and her vintage-inspired swimwear line that celebrates the female form. Expect high waisted bottoms and halterneck tops in gingham and stripe prints that’ll transport you straight to the beach in the pin-up and Farrah Fawcett heydays.

Felicity Carter: What was your first fashionable memory?

Norma Kamali: My mother’s wardrobe and hairstyles and makeup.

FC: How, when, why did you get into the industry?

NK: With no interest in the fashion of the Mad Men era which was prevalent the time when I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, I decided to travel and found myself in London. And it was at that exact moment when the ‘60s revolution hit.

I brought clothing back from London on a regular basis and I opened a store in Manhattan, NYC.

FC: How would you sum up the aesthetic?

NK: Sixties individuality and innovation.

What is luxury to you?

NK: Fitness and health equals authentic beauty that is luxury.

FC: Who is your customer?

NK: Someone who has a free-spirited style.

FC: Which was the first-ever piece that you designed and how did it come about?

NK: Hot pants or shorts made in patches or velvet with embroidery or snakeskin.

FC: What’s been your career highlight to date?

NK: Being in the business for 53 years and since 1976 the sole owner no partners!

FC: Currently which is your favorite piece from the collection?

NK: I don’t have any favorites, however, there are styles that fit the sustainability model designed in the ’70s yet still sold as best-sellers. The sleeping bag coat was designed in the 1970s and is still as popular as ever.

FC: What piece of advice would you’d give to someone starting out in the fashion industry?

NK: Understand the needs of people and this time and be authentic.

Shop the brand on the Norma Kamali website.

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