Merging Fashion, Fitness and Art
Metro Exclusive Interview With Norma Kamali by Ronda M. Parag
On June 6 in New York City, Norma Kamali received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the highest award a fashion designer can obtain. Kamali’s fashion career has spanned five decades and she is a strong champion of women with a focus on fitness, health, beauty, style and entrepreneurship. The new exhibition at the Tampa Museum of Art merges fashion and art. Norma Kamali was in Tampa for the opening of the exhibition and METRO had a chance to discuss her inspirations, recent lifetime achievement award and what is next for her.
METRO: Who & what influenced you to become interested in fashion?
NORMA KAMALI: I initially wanted to be a painter. I loved anatomy and went to school on a painting scholarship. I had a very eccentric mother who made costumes and she made most of my clothing, that we designed together. My mother created an environment where you could do, and be, whatever you wanted. There were no barriers. She taught life lessons through example.
M: What inspires you?
NK: Passion and inspiration are the lifeblood of creativity. My current passion is inspiring folks to embrace fitness, health, beauty and style in order to reach their potential. Life’s biggest challenge, in this fast-forward life, is finding balance. I am proud and fortunate to have been able to express myself creatively throughout my career.
M: How do you know if your fashions will stand the test of time?
NK: I started in the 70s by wearing and selling vintage clothing. I loved the fabrics and how I felt. I designed with knits and fabrics that could sculpt and expand. The designs allowed women to wear in different ways — off the shoulder, one shoulder, various necklines, etc. Style is more important than fashion. When you understand personal style, you are timeless.
M: Tell us about the famous red one-piece swimsuit worn by Farrah Fawcett.
NK: Farrah actually was carrying the red suit in her bag, when a photographer friend, Bruce McBroom suggested taking some photos on the beach. It wasn’t one of my favorites and actually, I get way too much credit for something that I really don’t deserve.
M: What is next for Norma Kamali?
NK: This is a disruptive time in history, so we need to think about reinvention. I need to tell people who and what we are and what we (the Norma Kamali brand) are about. I’m focusing on fitness, health, beauty and style. M
Norma Kamali – CITY: Fashion+Art+Culture
will be on exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art through September 25, 2016.
For more information and hours, visit www.TampaMuseum.org.
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