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Bright indeed. And plenty chatty.

This story first appeared in the May 25, 2016 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Donna Karan and Norma Kamali, iconic personalities of American fashion entrenched in the communal psyche for what seems like forever (no insult intended). Both women are passionate and opinionated and, in a very real sense, pioneers. The casual-chic cool of Kamali’s daring city sweats presaged today’s omnipresent ath-leisure by 35 years; she put her philosophy of designer-as-retailer into practice in 1969 — a fact that seems biologically impossible when looking at her. Karan famously left Anne Klein to develop a system of urbane “body dressing” under her own name and advanced the secondary-line concept into a full-on fashion component. Both women embrace wellness as an essential aspect of fashion, and are philanthropically inclined. Despite mutual admiration, they don’t know each other well.

On June 6, the two will be honored by the CFDA, Kamali, with the Lifetime Achievement Award and Karan, the Founder’s Award. Perhaps it shouldn’t have taken a glitzy occasion decades into their careers for WWD to get the two together for a conversation, but better late than never. When we requested the story, Karan immediately offered to host lunch, either at the Stephan Weiss Studio on Greenwich Street or her sprawling apartment on Central Park West. Uptown won. Though Kamali lives around the corner from the studio, she planned to go back to work at her 56th Street headquarters. But after five hours of Friday-afternoon bonding over healthy salmon, exquisitely prepared by Karan’s chef-cum-healer Ruth Pontvianne. Karan and Kamali found plenty to talk about, from the state of the industry to their personal real estate. While they have much in common, on some points they’re as different as their choices of sitting-around footwear suggests.

The get-together started with a photo session and a walk-through of Karan’s apartment, an impeccably appointed pantheon of zen-centric metropolitan chic: furniture from Bali; artwork by Francis Bacon, Bill Morris, Julian Schnabel and Donna’s late husband Stephan Weiss; glorious city views. Yet each as compelling to both women: A good closet.

D.K.: I’ll show you my black closet.

N.K.: You’re hysterical. Get out.

D.K.: You have color in your closet? The only reason this [section of white shirts] has come in is because it’s spring. It’s going right to the beach. I’ll wear white over black in the summer so it doesn’t look like I’m totally in black.

N.K.: You’re so funny.

D.K.: I’m surprised your closet isn’t all black.

N.K.: I wear a lot of prints.

D.K.: Where were you brought up?

N.K.: Manhattan.

D.K.: You’re a New York girl.

N.K.: Seventy-second Street. I loved growing up in New York.

D.K.: It intimidated the s–t out of me; I’m not a New York person. I work in New York. I live in the world. I lived out on Long Island. I was so intimidated by the city, it scared me.

N.K.: I live literally down the street from Urban Zen, and whenever the door is open, I go in.

D.K.: I’d like to move downtown. I’ve thought of selling this apartment. [My daughter] Gabby won’t let me. The [terrace] is fantastic. Really love the night lights. The only way I’d live in New York is on the park or on the water.

Donna, tell me about Norma.

D.K.: I so respect Norma as a woman designing for women. Not only how advanced she was on so many different levels — understanding the body; obviously, the iconic down coat that I don’t think there is a woman who never wore it. Her complete understanding of lifestyle and the intimacy. She’s never lost her uniqueness and her identity. Never fell into the system, but always was ahead of the system. And the honesty of what she’s projected.

Norma, tell me about Donna.

N.K.: This is my impression of Donna: For me, balance has always been a challenge. [To Donna] I may have a total misconception, but it appears to me that you have balance and you understand how to do that. I never felt I could be a mother. You managed, I think, very successfully, to have a family, to be married, to go through a life-changing event in your relationship publicly, and to be a part of the universe….You make it all work and you are able to be extraordinarily generous.


We’re here because you’re both about to be honored by the CFDA. Do awards matter?

N.K.: Awards definitely matter. I think they matter when you’re young; they’re inspiring. When you’re questioning [whether] what you’re doing is the right thing, I think it’s very helpful. Getting recognition for something you love — what more can you ask for? I think the idea of an award in itself is not what you work for. You work for what you want and feel is right and what your goals are.

D.K.: I had a problem with the Oscars this year. I think everybody deserved an Oscar. Was it this year or last year? How do you differentiate between one or the other because they’re all strong in their own right? I think sometimes the awards are a little bit, I don’t want to say fixed…

The CFDA Awards?

D.K.: On any level. [Voters decide based on] who they are closer with. Also, I don’t think everybody has seen every show, watching it on Instagram or whatever the case may be — not on Instagram but online. There’s no feeling or touching anymore…I love when they honor young talent.

It’s not that I don’t appreciate Designer of the Year or whatever, because some designers really do deserve that award, no question. I think we’re in a little bit of limited business right now. There’s a redundancy on that level.

You have both been trailblazers. Donna, for years you were something of a lone wolf on the topic of industry vs. consumer timing. Now, show-now-buy-now is a huge conversation. Do you feel vindicated?

D.K.: Because of all of the information being put out on the Internet, the customer is bored. We should show long-lead press, absolutely, and retailers, absolutely. But consumers — we should show in season. People want instant gratification.

Norma and I talk to the consumer, we go directly to the consumer. For the consumer, it’s too confusing. When it’s snowing out, they’re looking for a pair of boots or a warm coat [and can’t find them]. That’s why I started Urban Zen. I couldn’t take it anymore. If they’re not going to do it, I was going do it.

N.K.: Quite frankly, the way I see fashion after being in business since 1967, fashion is out of fashion. If you’re in fashion, you’re out of fashion. And if fashion is what you look like, you do not represent the modern woman. Style can be fashionable, but this whole idea that the fashion industry is the same and fashion has the same meaning in a woman’s life, it doesn’t. It’s completely different. [Today] it’s instantaneous: “I want this now, I want it overnight,” if not the same day. I don’t want to wait for anything. I mean, I’m one of those shoppers myself, I only shop online. I never go into stores.

Norma, you were very early with your own store.

N.K.: It’s funny. Having a retail store now is so for me out of step with what the world is about. The beauty of being online is that [the customer] is having access to you. When people come into my store, some may have seen Lady Gaga or Rihanna in something and they come in and there’s a 70-year-old woman who’s also shopping and they look at each other like, “Why am I in here if she shops in here?” Online, you curate for yourself. You do it and you have no idea who the other customers are.

It’s such a fantastic experience. The service is so extraordinary that it’s so hard to compete with. My site is going global June 1, and I’m so excited about it. Shopping online, I can get so much done sitting in a car from the time I leave my house until I get to work.

D.K.: I feel very differently about it, maybe because I’m nontechnical. When I shop online, I shop because I know [the product]. Food, presents — I love it. I can’t translate that to [clothes], particularly when you’re doing black, unless it’s shot a certain way [so] you can really see the body.


Do you think of brick-and-mortar shops as passé?

N.K.: In the way we know it now. I think a transformation will definitely take place. Everybody understands their customers need an experience, but the experience still hasn’t been discovered. In Donna’s [Urban Zen] store, you have home and her curation of objects and jewelry and there’s an experience. But in most stores, it’s racks of clothes and it’s like walking through a closet.

D.K.: I think what Norma was saying [about experiential retail] is absolutely correct. When I started DKNY, it was more important for me to have the café than it was about the clothes. I wanted to have the flowers, I wanted to have the bicycle, I wanted to have the children’s wear, I wanted to have a life and that for me was what DKNY was about. I wanted to have the café.

People would say to me, “You’re crazy, why are you doing all of this?” I remember being young and hanging out in Bloomingdale’s. That was a hangout place. It was fun and exciting. They brought in India [a storewide promotion] and it was an experience as a way of shopping. Right now, specialty stores look like department stores. Going down Madison Avenue is like going down an aisle in a department store. It’s all the same stuff.

N.K.: And they’re all empty and they’re all sad. It’s scary.

It doesn’t get any easier.

N.K.: People outside of the fashion industry — I have a lot of friends — they think that we’re mental. They think people who view the world through the fashion industry are not quite right. I’m not kidding. At first, I would feel like, “Oh, my God.” Then I think about it and it is ridiculous. Some of the things we do are just ridiculous.

The amount of work is relentless.

D.K.: It’s much more in-depth than that.

N.K.: The thing about the fashion industry that is so incredibly different, and only people who are connected to us understand it, is that I think we work harder than any industry. Fashion designers especially are an incredible breed. And I’m saying that outside of myself.

Yet everyone wants to be a designer.

N.K.:: Some for reasons that are so bizarre. The first thing you need to do to be a fashion designer is be a really good singer or a really good celebrity….I think it’s got to be so frustrating for young designers [who are not]. Every time I hear them, I just keep saying, “Do a sex tape. Do a sex tape.” Just kidding…

What do you think of the Kardashian-ization of the fashion industry of the world?

N.K.: They’re brilliant geniuses of marketing and merchandising, everything. I don’t have a bad word for any of them because they’re extraordinarily brilliant with what it’s about today. Every part of our lives is expressing through communication; the familiarity, the storytelling, is so, so important.

Communication is essential.

D.K.: Fashion is not talking to the consumer. I think what Norma is saying is that there needs to be — like, why does a car get redesigned? It’s the seat of the car, how it’s operating, there’s always new technology.

N.K.: Why is [a particular item] appealing? It’s doing something, it’s changing your life, it has an impact on how you live and exist. We have not done that in a revolutionary way since the Sixties. As an industry, we have done gorgeous clothes, there are some spectacular, beautiful clothes, but it’s like…

D.K.: How does it take you to the next dimension?

N.K.: If that T-shirt can heal you, can regulate your heartbeat, can warm you, cool you, help you tone your body, I’m making this up but I’m saying something that we need to go…

D.K.: The clothes can become technological.

What if, just like that painting on the wall, a fabulous piece just makes me feel good when I look at it and wear it?

D.K.: It’s not either-or. It’s and…

Norma, it sounds like you’re saying that aesthetic appeal isn’t enough.

N.K.: Color is not enough, length is not enough, it’s superficial. It’s not as meaningful as having a T-shirt that regulates your heartbeat. I’m talking profound stuff, a swimsuit that you can float in [if] you don’t know how to swim.

But isn’t one of the joys of fashion that in the micro sense it can provide diversion from the profound?

N.K.: The personal side of [fashion], it always should affect every part of your life. We shouldn’t stay small with it. As revolutionary as I observed the Sixties to be, and as profound of an impact [that period] had on my life and the ability to think out of the box, this revolution is tenfold more impactful. It’s huge.

Now we have the ability to do things on a grander scale. Maybe that color that you like is not just making you happy, but it’s also an orangey, yellow and turmeric going through your bloodstream.

D.K.: Also, it’s a color that can become you. There’s ways to put something on that has that adaptation between your skin and it, you can really change, it can change along with you.

The technological step can be a little sloppy. Do you remember when I showed the glow-in-the-dark clothes? I will never forget this. I was so excited, and two days before, I realized it didn’t work. They glowed in the dark if you were in the dark in a black room, but all of a sudden you didn’t see the person. I found out that you had to be the director of the light, so I put light fixtures on the chairs. I will never forget it; I remember Anna [Wintour] wouldn’t wear the lightbulb.

On the old-fashioned technical side, Norma, you make patterns.

N.K.: I love making patterns. Because numbers and technical things were challenging for me, I decided I had to conquer it, then when I got good at it I was obsessed. It’s like, making a bra is one of the most complicated things to make. You think I can make a bra. The patternmaking in a bra is so complicated.

D.K.: You make the patterns, I just do the draping.

N.K.: I do both. Especially for swimwear, there aren’t a lot of people that are really good at making swim patterns. I feel really confident that I could be competing in a world where swimwear…I’m very serious about swimwear.

You’re concerned about finding people to handle such skills in the future.

N.K.: If we don’t start inventing new ways, looking into how we tell the story, how we sell, what we do, how we make clothes? Who’s going to make clothes in the future? What Millennial anywhere around the world in 10 to 20 years will want to sit behind a sewing machine? Not going to happen. If we’re not all thinking about that today, there’s going to be bigger problems tomorrow.

Back to the past for a moment. Mark [Mann, who photographed Karan and Kamali here] just said you did the swimsuit for the famous Farrah Fawcett poster. I didn’t know that.

N.K.: She had it in her bag. She was on the beach with a friend of hers who was a photographer. He said, “Do you have a bathing suit with you?” It became a poster. She’s so gorgeous. It was a crappy suit. Trust me, it was not a good suit.

Donna, you mentioned the “cold shoulder.”

D.K.: Do you remember when I got killed for the cold shoulder? [Karan refers to the review of her spring 1993 collection in WWD. She loves to bring it up.] Hillary [Clinton] wore the cold shoulder to the first Inaugural thing, no, to the first state dinner.

I made President Clinton’s [Inaugural] tuxedo. I’ll never forget that as long as I live. He calls me up three days before the inauguration. “Donna, I need a tuxedo.” I said, “What size are you?” “I’m a 54 long.” I said, “Mr. President, you can’t be a 54 long; you have to be a 54 extra long. My husband is a 54 long and you’re so much taller than my husband.” Martin Greenfield makes my suits, and he’s Jewish, I call him up and said, “You have to make me two suits.”

We make the tuxedos. It’s the Arkansas Ball. Stephan and Barbra [Streisand] were standing there. Everyone saw us on TV. The first thing out of my mouth: “Congratulations. What size suit are you wearing?” I felt like such a jerk.


The answer?

D.K.: Fifty-four long. I always had a crush on him. I think the man is a genius. Not you? No crush on him?

N.K.: No. I respect his intelligence. I think he’s very smart, brilliant. He’s charismatic. It’s beyond charismatic, I totally get it.

D.K.: Don’t say I have a crush on him.

You’re both into a holistic lifestyle approach, with an emphasis on wellness.

N.K.: Clothing can inform and change somebody in a major way, but I’m convinced that fitness, health, beauty, are such an important part of that transformation, how you can look good because you’re in good shape.

When you take the dress off, it’s not that the dress was [covering] who I am but this dress is an expression of who I am. That comes from being fit and healthy. There is no makeup, no hairstyle, no dress that is more beautiful than someone that is healthy. That component is a huge direction I’m taking; I’m involved in doing something now. All of this together is the information I’ve gathered through all of the years and I want to share with people.

I just finished doing a book with an acupuncture doctor.

D.K.: My husband once said to me, “Donna, hemlines go up and down, but fragrance lasts forever.” I said, “Stephan, I can’t stand fragrance. It’s about essential oils.” They’re edible, they’re health-oriented, they’re everything you need.

N.K.: Plant-based.

D.K.: They’re natural. And I would go to the beauty companies and say to them, “This is the next dimension in fragrance.” When I started the fragrance company I had the candles, the diffusers, I brought them to hospitals. Hospitals stink. I would bring them when Stephan was sick, I would have Ruth [who prepared the lunch] — she’s a holistic healer, she would come around with essential oil and everyone would say, “I want that.”

You launched Urban Zen with a wellness component.

D.K.: Urban Zen was a bit confusing because it did not start out as retail. It started out philanthropic because the studio was where I held all of my work on health care, education, culture. [Women] would come and say, “Donna, when are you going to do more clothes?” I said “Huh? I do enough clothes.” And they said, “We’re down here. We want to shop.” That’s how the store opened up.

Briefly, what is each of your daily routines in terms of health, well-being, diet?

D.K.: I start every single morning with yoga, Pilates, meditation, 45 minutes to an hour. I go into a steam with essential oils and all of that. Then I do a little bit of body work, creams and stuff like that. Then, my diet starts out every morning with a protein drink.

Norma, what do you do?

N.K.: I’m supercompetitive. The thing I do every day is Physique 57. It’s brilliant. In eight classes you can see shape in your legs, you can see your butt change. In Chinese medicine, the afternoon is the best time to work out. I try to exercise between 4 and 5 p.m.


N.K.: Diet is super important. I think sugar is the most aging thing you can put in your body. It decays every cell. It’s important to look at food as an important part of who we are and how our industry succeeds. If people feel good about themselves, they buy more, they want more, they feel better about the experience. I eat tons of food. I just don’t eat those foods that are going to make me feel bloated, horrible about myself. And if I do, the next day don’t go there.

D.K.: I have a popcorn problem. When I go to the movies I’m obsessed.

N.K.: If you’re going to do popcorn, do it with great olive oil and a minimum amount of sea salt.

Norma, ath-leisure is a major category now. You introduced your urban sweats in 1980. Where did the idea come from?

N.K.: I was doing a swimwear collection. I needed to do cover-ups. I swam a lot for many, many years. I would get out of the water and put a sweatshirt on. I loved how it felt. I used to get them from the Army-Navy stores. Unless you were around a college campus or the Army-Navy store, you couldn’t get one. This was ’79. I found some gray fleece and I started to make things. I made a cocoon that you could put on over [a swimsuit]. I kept going and going — dresses, evening gowns, puffers, shorts and skirts and whatever, this collection of 36 pieces. I hadn’t done anything big-scale yet at all.

I just was so afraid that, once again, I’d put it in my store and I would see [a knockoff] in Bloomingdale’s. Any time I did anything, I would see a full page in Bloomingdale’s. So Michael Coady, do you know him?

Are you kidding? He was the editor of WWD when I was hired.

N.K.: He used to go to a restaurant on 56th Street….He would pass by. One day he walked in and said, “What’s going on in here? What is this place?” I said, “It’s my store.” He would stop by every time he went to lunch. One day, I said, “Can I show you something?” I showed him the collection. I was so afraid to put this out and have it [knocked off].

He said, “don’t put it out.” He gave me a list of names to talk to, and one of them was Sidney Kimmel.…Sidney Kimmel comes in and said, “Michael told me you have a collection for me to see. I understand it’s really good. We should make a deal together.”

Just like that?

N.K.: I showed it to him and in a very short time we had a deal. It came out in 1980. The press went crazy. There were lines outside the department stores, lines around the corner of my shop for the sweats.

I think people were ready for this casual approach to dressing. I think I just happened to be at the crest of the wave. Stars aligned, whatever. It just came together. I believe the reason that type of dressing still exists today is because of this more casual approach.

D.K.: Why haven’t you gone into yoga?

N.K.: That’s a big conversation. I’ve always done clothes that people can work out in since I started doing swimwear…but, you’re going to the gym and you’re wearing clothes that look like you’re going to the gym — it’s going to be not attractive anymore. I think I’m tired of it. I don’t want to see it.

Donna, talk about the genesis of your seven easy pieces.

D.K.: It’s simple. When I started Donna Karan I still wanted to be at Anne Klein and Anne Klein II. There, with the two lines, I thought that was catering to a more massive audience. [With Donna Karan] I wanted to develop a collection for my friends and me that would be basic and take me from day to evening. I said this is what I wanted to do and they fired me.

[Frank Mori and Tomio Taki] said, “Donna, there is nothing you can do that’s small so get past it. You’ll just do Donna Karan. You can either have us as your partners or go out and find somebody else.”

They put me into business for Donna Karan. I started with a concept, with seven easy pieces. The bodysuit: I wore a body suit every single day of my life for dressing. I took a scarf and wrapped it around me. My father was a custom tailor so I loved tailoring jackets. I said I needed a pair of tights because the skirt could fly open or whatever.

The rest was history, I came out and everybody loved the collection and thought it was a really new thing. I opened in Bergdorf’s.

Now you’re back at Bergdorf’s with Urban Zen.

D.K.: [LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton] closed Donna Karan and Bergdorf’s had just built the Donna Karan boutique the season before. Josh Schulman said, “I know what we’ll do. We’ll have Urban Zen.” It still scares me a lot. I never wanted to do wholesale with Urban Zen, only retail.

Josh obviously felt Bergdorf’s has a customer for what you do.

D.K.: The customer was very upset [when the Donna Karan store closed], there’s no question about it. Now, it’s drawing me a little bit more to eveningwear, which I never thought I would do.

You said leaving the company was difficult and a total mess. Talk about it.

D.K.: I could not do Donna Karan/DKNY and Urban Zen. It was a lot. I wasn’t giving Urban Zen the time that it needed….I think this is where the balance comes in. I [approached the design process for] Urban Zen as my personal wardrobe, and at Donna Karan, I was open to more creation. Then [there was] the DKNY part. There were three different parts of me. I loved my people. They had been with me forever and I was fighting myself the same way I fought leaving Anne Klein. There I was reliving my life all over again. It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make.

Are you…

D.K.: Regretful of it? Sad about it?

I was going to ask if you’re at peace with it. But are you regretful? Sad?

D.K.: I’m still working through it. A loss is a loss.

What do you think about DKNY now?

N.K.: That’s too personal to ask.

D.K.: I had a vision for DKNY. The closing of the Donna Karan and DKNY stores on Madison Avenue hurt a lot. It was really hurtful. Yet in the weirdest way, I love my little Urban Zen store.

N.K.: I love it so much more than [the others]. I think that you’ve looked at [Urban Zen] as the third thing for so long that you need to close your eyes and open them again and look at the potential about how well it fits today.

Change of topic: The election. What’s your take on the election?

D.K.: You know mine. There’s no question in my mind Hillary should win….I think the world is so upset with the way we are today. I can almost, pardon the expression, throw up that Donald Trump is at the place he is at this moment in time and what that says about the world we live in today. It’s shocking, beyond shocking.

N.K.: I think it’s almost not a surprise. I remember when Reagan ran. I couldn’t believe that a celebrity was running for president, I thought it was crazy. I’m not either a Democrat or Republican, I’m more [concerned about] who’s the person. I’m not a party person at all; I have no place in my world for that. Then I look back [at Reagan]. I think maybe he wasn’t perfect, but he wasn’t a terrible president. Then you think about the Kardashians, you think about the GE Theater. There was Reagan, on for 10 years, Donald Trump on TV for 14 years. Interesting how through television the country becomes familiar with the Kardashians, with Trump, with Reagan, whoever.

Reagan was an actor playing roles. Trump is an entertainer playing himself.

N.K.: It’s something cultural that’s even bigger than the people. It’s more about what we as society are wanting and allowing. And also, there are a lot of people hurting and they don’t know where to go.

D.K.: Then you’ve got — I think Bernie is a lovely guy, I really like him a lot. Would I put my hands [sic] in Bernie right now? Absolutely not. I feel that the world is not safe. I think of the respect that Bill and Hillary have in the world. I think we’re dealing with a world election. The way we’re being perceived as a country is an embarrassment beyond embarrassments. I’m in shock more than anything else.

N.K.: I think Trump is a genius, I think the Kardashians are brilliant. And you know what? They would not exist if we didn’t want that. And so we can’t blame him. We have to look at our culture, what’s going on and where we are at this time. I thought Bloomberg. But you know what, why didn’t he [run]? Because he’s not a Kardashian. I personally begged him…Hillary is super-smart, she’s tough, she’s like steel. But…

D.K.: For her to be able to do what she’s done…

N.K.: One of the things that I think hurts Hillary, the fund-raising part of what she’s done, people see that almost as corrupt.

That’s partly the Bernie Sanders effect.

N.K.: He just tapped into the nerve. I, too, think how can you not like the guy?

D.K.: He’s a sweetheart of a guy. But he’s not realistic.

N.K.: And why aren’t we voting online?

Full circle back to the CFDA, which conducts its awards voting online. Is the CFDA doing a good job?

D.K.: In a lot of respects they’re doing phenomenal work.

N.K.: Diane [von Furstenberg] — you’ve got to give her credit. That’s a huge job. She does it gracefully, and you take a lot of punches, too. She does it and she’s really kind of amazing at it.

D.K.: She sees the larger picture and the smaller picture. The CFDA as I know it was the who’s whos and what’s whats.

I’m not sure I know what that means.

D.K.: It was a limited profile of designers running the CFDA. Now she’s built it out for young designers and new designers. I think Anna has a lot to do with it.

N.K.: I remember when Anna was my editor for Viva Magazine. She always had this sort of straggly hair, and she’d come in and pull things and was very sweet. She did innovative editorial at a magazine that was doing nothing. One day she came in and had a haircut, she had bangs and a bob. I said, “Anna, I think this is it. I think you should have your haircut for forever.” I could tell she felt that way, too. It was sort of like she transformed…talk about people who have impacted this industry.

D.K.: She made Seventh on Sale, Kids for Kids, and look what she’s done to The Met. It’s just extraordinary.

N.K.: The women in the industry should be commended. Think of Diana Vreeland. I have a great Diana Vreeland story. I had just started my parachute stuff. It was ’72, I think, and the first Met exhibition that would have clothes from living designers. Before that, it was Catherine the Great and Catherine’s buddies. They contacted me and said, “She wants to do one part of the room that’s all parachutes, in this silvery blue.”

I did three parachute things. Then she requested that I meet her before the exhibit. I’m alone with her; she’s doing Diana Vreeland to the max. So she sweeps me through all of these Catherine the Great-type clothes, then to this round circle with a light shining over the parachutes. She was so supportive and generous. I didn’t hear a word she was saying; I didn’t know how to handle it. It was very personal, because it was just the two of us.

That’s wonderful. Donna, do you have an early story like that, about someone who captivated you? Or surprised you with early graciousness?

D.K.: Not that I can think of.

You’ve certainly made a lot of friends, including your travel buddy, Calvin.

D.K.: Calvin and I travel together. The first trip we did was Africa. It was probably one of the best trips I’ve ever done.

Norma, you mentioned Ian [Shrager].

N.K.: Where Ian is, I have to be. We just bought a house in Mount Kisco, N.Y., a Richard Meier house from 1972. The only reason, Ian gets a house in Bedford and he’s, like, you have to move here. Ian introduced me to the guy I’m with, Marty [Edelman]. He’s fantastic and he’s perfect.

D.K.: Wonderful. How many years ago?

N.K.: Five-and-a-half.

D.K.: I’m going to call Ian. Immediately.