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There are a lot of designers out in the waves this season, desperate to hang 10. But none of them has the beach cred that competitive surfer Maia Norman does. “I can make the boys cry with shame,” she says, flexing a formidable bicep. “I’ve got the muscle to back it up.” Norman, who is married to artist Damian Hirst, just launched her first collection under the label Mother of Pearl, full of snappy clothes based on Hawaiian tribal prints, including a splashy halter dress, a cowboy shirt with neon piping and short shorts.

This story first appeared in the October 8, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Norman, who rides the waves almost every day at home in England, was recently busted by police while paddling up the Thames on her long board. And her approach to fashion is as fun-loving as you might imagine: after a night on the town in Paris she arrived back at her hotel just in time for a 9:30 a.m. appointment.

Nevertheless, Barneys New York and Browns of London have already bought the line, which has wholesale prices that range from $95 to $150, and Norman, who worked on the label launch for two years, plans to pursue fashion as she has followed the waves. “Doing a collection is like surfing,” she says. “You can’t just jump into the deep end and make it, but if you work long enough and hard enough, it happens.”

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