Norma Kamali, iconic designer for 55 years, has left her mark on the fashion world with an unparalleled influence. At Montaigne Market, we love her bias, casual silhouettes and unchanging chic. We will tell you all about it.
"My interest in all things for female empowerment has been my purpose in my life. there is nothing more important than feeling good in your body and mind, and when you look good at the same time a woman is invincible"
The Inspiring Story of Norma Kamali
Born in 1945 in New York City, she had a passion for art, particularly painting, from an early age. Her mother urged her to enter the Fashion Institute of Technology to study fashion illustration. She graduated in 1964, aged just 19. After graduation, she moved back and forth to London. It was there that she discovered clothes that she imported to sell in her very first boutique in New York in 1967. A year later, she decided to design her own clothes, to create her own universe: "the desire to design the vintage of the future led me to create the all-in-one dress and other multi-style jersey models."
In 1981, just 14 years after opening her first shop, she was awarded the Coty prize for innovation in design, celebrating her sweatshirt collection. The latter proposed "a new idea for active-casual fashion for day and night", with draped and satin hooded bodysuits for example. And a year later, she won a second Coty award for women's fashion, for her design of the high-heeled sneaker, which she patented: "my interest in all things concerning women's empowerment has been my life's goal. There's nothing more important than feeling good in your body and mind, and when you feel good at the same time, a woman is invincible."
"The sleeping bag coat was born when I cut up my own sleeping bag after a camping trip"
It's in this spirit that she will release now iconic pieces, such as hot pants, the parachute collection, and the iconic sleeping bag coat. "The sleeping bag coat was born when I cut up my own sleeping bag after a camping trip." These pieces will be included in Diana Vreeland's curation of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute. In 1976, Farrah Fawcett wore her own swimsuit piece, which thanks to this would become an emblem of her brand: "A red NK piece for her iconic swimsuit poster, photographed by Bruce McBroom and later considered the best-selling poster of all time. Studio 54. Ian Schrager asks me to design the costume for Grace Jones' New Year's Eve show, beginning a long friendship." In 1978, she designed the costumes for the "Emerald city" sequence in Sidney Lumet's film The Wiz.
She introduced many innovations to the fashion world, such as the sleeping bag coat, ready-to-wear sweaters that influenced casual style as a global lifestyle, creative sportswear, influential swimwear that inspired many swimwear companies for decades, easy-care garments and jersey knitwear collections for a foldable wardrobe suitable for travel. She developed luxury collections in Italy and created a range of garments for Walmart while managing its global operations based in New York. Throughout her career, she has been involved in numerous collaborations and licensing agreements covering all categories in the USA, Japan and Europe. Whatever the design, her brand's aim is to create clothes that are timeless, durable (wash only) and inspire the wearer to feel good.
Norma's fascination with technology has been a constant throughout her career, dating back to her early days in 1964 as a reservations agent at Northwest Airlines, where she was trained on a UNIVAC computer. Her early understanding of the opportunities presented by real-time data inspired many forays into the digital world throughout her career. Her website, created in 1996, marked the beginning of direct real-time connections with her customers. The "Try before you buy" and "Buy like a celebrity" concepts were also introduced at this time. QR codes were used to make in-store purchases from mannequin displays, eventually offering customers the opportunity to see the clothes in person before capturing the QR code for a later purchase at their convenience.
The future is vintage
At the latest Spring Summer 2024 shows, Norma Kamali introduced a new color to her palette, Tiger Red. A vivid, deep red, which on her models is highlighted with matte skin and/or a touch of carmine lipstick. As THE color of the year, it perfectly rises to the challenge of the perfect red.
In her previous collections, she has offered us vibrant silver, with or without shimmer, making each piece a punch of freshness. Silver is back at the top of the fashion podium this year, whether you opt for ballerinas or a bag to spice up a basic outfit, or mix it with gold for THE color combo of the year.
In keeping with 2024 trends, the play of transparency in her dresses is a must-have this season. Always chic without ever being vulgar, her dresses with transparent stripes give a glimpse of the beauty of every body. Fine, elegant lace, tulle and cut-out pieces all come together to dare transparency without fear.
To conclude, we love Norma Kamali for its futuristic and vintage creations at the same time, its glamorous and elegant cuts, its vibrant colors and also basic but always effective with fingers of fairy and a head full of dreams.