[T]alking to Norma Kamali about her life is a thing of wonder. Like fashion’s answer to Forrest Gump, the New York designer has been at the centre of countless cultural movements over the past six decades. From the decadence of Studio 54 in the 1970s to the rise of genderless fashion in the 1980s – Norma has not only seen it all, she created the wardrobe for much of it too.
Credited with inventing the Sleeping Bag Coat (as loved by Rihanna), Farrah Fawcett’s iconic red swimsuit and high heeled sneakers – there aren’t many trends that the pioneering designer hasn’t had a hand in.
Power dressing? It’s Norma who popularised the shoulder pad in the 1980s. Athleisure? She also made the tracksuit a thing of glamour. Maintaining her independence throughout, she continues to inspire the next generation of designers, winning a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA in 2016.
Taking it back to the 1980s, Norma’s latest collection flirts with the strong silhouettes of the era but recasts them for the modern woman in the softer, flexible fabrics that have become her trademark. We talked to the design icon about female empowerment and her fond and fabulous memories of New York City.