It goes without saying that designer Norma Kamali is a formidable figure in the fashion industry, and she has four decades' worth (and counting!) of legendary designs to show for it. With her keen eye and boundary-pushing creativity, Kamali's styles have defined and transcended eras. She fashioned the famous sleeping bag coat in the '70s, ignited the shoulder pad trend in the '80s, pioneered the luxe comfort movement with a widely accepted sweats collection in the same decade, and revolutionized swimwear (see Farrah Fawcett's iconic red one-piece).
With her trademark blunt bangs, signature cat eye frames, and her own personal eccentric style, the award-winning 68-year-old designer has become something of a fashion icon herself—and inspires respect and awe wherever she goes. As a salute to her robust career, we asked the designer to take a look back at her most memorable moments (in her own iconic designs, no less), from a fresh-faced newcomer in the '60s to her seasoned present-day self.
And make sure to log on to InStyle’s Facebook page on Tuesday, June 17, at 1 p.m. ET, for a Facebook Q&A with Norma Kamali herself!
1. New to the Scene
"I was 19 years old here," Kamali recalls. "Wig, false eyelashes applied one at a time, and tons of pancake makeup all over my face and lips. It took more than 1 1/2 hours to get my look together!"
2. The '60s In London
"What an exciting time! I worked for an airline and traveled to London every weekend for four years. This was a street photo in Paris Match magazine taken on Kings Road in front of a friend's shop, called Dandies."
3. Posing In the Storefront
"This is from the late '60s in front of one of my early shops. I am in the window wearing a chiffon dress and head wrap. (Then husband) Eddie Kamali is wearing jeans that I hand painted for him."
4. A Norma Kamali Staple
"Jersey dresses have been in my collection from the day I opened in 1967."
5. The Butterfly Dress
"Here, I'm draping a dress for Diana Ross called the Butterfly."
6. A Girl's Best Friend
"Yes, I wore this to work with my favorite sneakers and my dachshund Ernie-he was always by my side!"
7. Her '70s Look
"I'm in my California store in the '70s, color-blocking and rocking shoulder pads."
8. The First Sign of Her Now-Famous Bangs
"This was taken around 1974-it was my first time with bangs (and haven't changed since). My look then-dark eye makeup, layered jewelry, and leather."
9. The Sleeping Bag Coat
"Sleeping bag coats for everyone! Men, women, and kids."
10. When Tech Meets Fashion
"For our 3D film presentation during New York Fashion Week in 2012. I designed 3D glasses in the shape of the square cat eye frames that I wear every day."
11. With InStyle's Fashion Director
"With Cindy Weber Cleary (InStyle's fashion director) and Ken Downing (Neiman Marcus's fashion director) watching my 3D film for New York Fashion Week in 2012."
12. Active Fashion
"Doing Physique 57 in one of my dresses!"
13. All For Embellishments
"I love decoration on jeans. Always have and always will! This pair is trimmed with safety pins and snaps."
14. Her Lifestyle
"Work out! Fitness, health, and wellness give me strength."