Designer Norma Kamali: 66 And Hotter Than Ever!

We know you know her, but have you SEEN designer/New Yorker/wellness genie Norma Kamali lately? She is not only one of my most favorite designers (ever!), she also radiates this kind of glowy gorgeousness like few women I've ever encountered. She's been designing her namesake line since the late '60s, pieces that are now collected not only by yours truly but plenty of contemporary designers who draw inspiration from her ground-breaking perspective (ever heard of the infamous Sleeping Bag coat, crafted from actual parachutes? Yes, that was Norma.). While we go weak in the knees for her earlier pieces (her '80s blazers are beyond!), her latest collections still ring true to the Kamali perspective, merging female-friendly cuts with avant-garde shapes and adaptable fabrics. That translates to sexy-pretty clothes that are actually practical, too. Sure, the fashion is amazing, but GOD, to look at this woman in person, we just had to know her beauty secrets, too. Just click through to read our chat with Ms. advice, included!
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When did you first launch your line and why?
"In 1967. I was traveling to London every weekend, and I took a job in airline reservations just so I could travel more. The look of the day when I was at F.I.T. was 'Mad Men' with girdles and corsets and Jackie Kennedy style. I was definitely not the matching hat and bag type. I was wearing vintage and Salvation Army way before it was the cool thing to do. So, I just started deconstructing the Jackie Kennedy-type styles, working them into my own looks. It wasn't until I was in London and saw the beginnings of the '60s revolution that I found my place, my voice. I fit in completely. I opened a basement store in Manhattan and sold my finds from London while starting my own collection."
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Your designs have always been very innovative but also very sensual...what was and is your aim when designing for modern women?
"To empower women with styles that are modern and easy, sensual, yes, and timeless. Innovative styles are timeless."
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Who's your target customer now?
"I have customers who are my fabulous age and those who follow the celebs that wear my clothes in their early twenties. they have one thing in common: They love being women. They have a spirit about life that tends to look like confidence."
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You are 66, but you look 30 years younger! You must tell us about all your beauty secrets.
"I feel 30 years younger, so that is good! I use olive liniment for my body as a moisturizer and olive pureed soap...yup just olives pureed to a creamy consistency that we call Olive Only Soap. I use an all-natural self-tanner as a makeup base and a raw-food lipstain. I have cucumber juice and chlorophyll everyday. No pills, unless you count vitamin D3 mega doses and fish oil. I love massages, especially Thai massage, and I work out everyday—and on Sunday!—for two to three hours. I am starting a full series of acupuncture facelifts with Dr. Yang. After the first one, you look refreshed! I think it's a great thing to do if you have a wedding or special event, but I'm trying the series of 12. I believe if you feel good about yourself, physically, mentally, and emotionally, you are truly empowered, and you can always feel female no matter your age!"
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When we met, I loved how your black tunic and leggings look could have been something you'd wear back in the '80s or '90s, yet you never look like you're dressing from a time-capsule...why do you think that is?
"Timeless style really is how to build personal style. I try more and more to be sure that I have options that deliver longevity to my customers. Styles that are truly timeless can be worn so many ways and adapt easily [over the years, too]."
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I told you I'm a big vintage collector and have a handful of your pieces from the '80s. Do you have an archive of your own stuff? any other designers you collect?
"I had a warehouse of 20,000 pieces, but I sold it all to a vintage store. Now the styles are having a second and third life. I was told many were purchased by designers, so the styles seem to live on, even if under another label. I am convinced, though, that by letting go of everything, I felt freer to do new things and look forward."
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How about contemporary designers...who do you like/admire?
"I like designers who do what they do and are true to themselves and their own aesthetic. They may reinvent themselves, but they don’t copy. I also think we have to be careful not to design for the industry and each other but for the real world while still being innovative."
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What's your advice to young women about finding their style...what's the secret?
"Only buy what you absolutely love. And develop a closet of those really special styles. It doesn’t mean they have to be expensive, just that you love them. Then start to mix them up in as many looks as possible. Photograph them so you can see what you like best. The more time that goes by, the more editing you can do until you have a refined selection, and, every day you could literally wear a different outfit that is an expression of your personal style."
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The latest collection is very body-conscious but also very subdued and elegant...what were you going for when you designed it?
"There is one section that is a cross between vintage lingerie and ladylike dresses. I love crossing the lingerie swim line, too. When there is a blur between what could be a swimsuit or a sexy undergarment, it can be proactive and still done in a pretty, coquettish way."
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I wish I was in Midtown more JUST so I could go to your Wellness Bar! Why did you launch it and what should readers get when they come to visit?
"The Wellness Café was established as a place where people can come for alternatives from food to personal care and lifestyle choices that can enhance fitness, health, and beauty. In fashion, we tend to cover our faces with makeup and create an illusion through clothing. One dress can change your night, but when you take it off will you still feel empowered when you look in the mirror? A non-processed food lifestyle with regular exercise and the use of personal-care products that support the immune system can transform your life. Little steps at your own pace can be very rewarding in a short time. Anyone who visits the café is welcome to a cup of green tea with some olive-oil popcorn and to test out some of the products. They can also sign up to be invited to our Wellness events where I personally share information about new products and people who are doing amazing things. Of course, all of this is done through vanity. why not get an acupuncture facelift? The acupuncture that transforms your face is really changing your entire system at the same time. From your liver and kidneys to your blood flow opening up everything to make way for a healthy balanced body and a beautiful glowing face."
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Any dating advice for single women?
"Don’t be ready to give up your identity EVER, especially on the first date!"

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