Sunglasses, Sleeping Bags, and Parachutes
Norma Kamali has weathered the fashion marketplace for more than three decades, seeing the rise and fall of countless peers and countless trends. And yet, as evidenced by her Spring 2010 line, the basics of her formula remain the same: an emphasis on innovation, an absence of snobbery, and, like a favorite band, the courtesy to still turn out the classics. The classics, in this case, are chic winter coats fashioned from sleeping bags (yes, Kamali is rightful inventor of the puffer jacket), jumpsuits made from parachutes, and a focus on the 50s pin-up motif. Besides her siren-worthy silhouettes in evening gowns or the Betty Grable swim wear, this old-fashioned yet modern influence is best embodied by the Norma Kamali Timeless Sunglass collection—a line of eye wear so spot-on with its vintage references it would be hard to choose just one pair.
Despite her vintage influences, however, the expert drapery, electric colors, and textured materials of Kamali’s Spring 2010 collection make it clear the designer knows how to stay true to herself but still move forward. Jersey dresses, tops and swim wear in canary yellow and electric blue fit in seamlessly with mesh leggings, folklore-esque quilted coats, and the infamous sleeping bag jackets—which were, in fact, born from an idea Norma got on a camping trip in the 70s. The parachute jumpsuit (or dress, or skirt, or jacket, for that matter) is another product dating back to the 70s, but with today’s emphasis on vintage finds, it’s right at home amongst jackets adorned with safety pins, lace leggings and foil bathing suits. We did mention innovation.
Norma Kamali doesn’t much care if her fabric is the most luxurious and expensive. Her longevity and success in fashion are born partly from a business-savvy approach to design for different levels of the market (her affordable Walmart line debuted about two years ago), and partly from the ability to follow her own fashion instinct and not fall victim to trends. Perhaps her personal motto says it best: “Timeless style is the definition of modern fashion.”