FAST FORWARD: While a 50-year anniversary usually calls for some reminiscing, Norma Kamali wants no part of it.
Looking back is counter to the designer’s way of being. “I really hate it,” she said.
Despite that tendency, Kamali has culled 70-plus clothing pieces and accessories for What Goes Around Comes Around and she “appreciates that there is interest in her previous designs.” Her fashion past, so to speak, will be showcased Tuesday in the “Vintage for the Future” event at the WGACA SoHo store and online. Kamali isn’t the only one celebrating an anniversary, the retailer is nearing its 25th year and is eyeing a Madison Avenue location.
WGACA cofounder Gerard Maione said he first met Kamali 10 years ago, and the pair stayed in touch. He thought what better time than fashion week to hold a launch party. Shoppers will find fringed eveningwear, bomber jackets, crop tops and other items mostly in the $750 to $3,500 retail price range. Kamali was hesitant to pick favorites. “I remember them being favorites, when I made them, and what the creative process was,” she explained. “But even now when I finish collections, I’m separated from it and I’m not connected to it anymore. While I’m doing it, I’m very connected to it.”
This partnership is one of several under way. An avid jewelry collector with Joseff of Hollywood and Miriam Haskell being favorites, Kamali stopped wearing jewelry years ago. She hasn’t decided whether she will give her stash to someone who can do something creative with it or sell it.
Kamali has also partnered with an unnamed executive whom she has known for 20 years to introduce a multicategory collection “that is about fitness, health, beauty and style that is not just under the wellness umbrella” in the coming months. It includes lifestyle products that I’ve been researching and using for years and years. I have been developing products that have to do with skin and all kinds of wonderful things,” she said. “The fashion industry has changed dramatically, and to not include health and fitness is to not really understand what the fashion industry should be about right now.”
A self-starter in the hoodie-puffer coat arena, Kamali said heath-related products have staying power. “We are going further and further into a time where the stress level does not get less. If you can’t personally find some solace or restoration that will balance you, you just can’t make it. It’s almost like social media. Every time you think you’ve caught up, there are 20 things that are new that you need to know,” Kamali said.
One thing that isn’t changing is ownership of her West 56th Street store and office. After wanting to sell it “for a really long time” to introduce a new retail concept at another location, Kamali said she is now appreciative that a deal fell through shortly before the 2016 presidential election. Now that security-related street closings due to nearby Trump Tower have “calmed down,” the designer said, “I’ve put my focus on some of these other projects and I’m glad I did.”
In March, her new radio show will start with Sirius XM and will cover a range of subjects. Her Stop Objectification project will be discussed — something she first did with Sirius six years ago — as well as fitness, health, beauty, style, fashion and entrepreneurism. “I’ve had my own company without partners, since 1967 so there is a lot interest in sharing my experience about that,” Kamali said. “There are an incredible amount of fascinating women who I love to interview.”
In the meantime, there is the WGACA event. “I think it will be really fun. I’m honored that they’re going all-out with it.” she said. “It’s there 25th anniversary and my 50th being in business.”
But don’t expect any other celebrations from Kamali for her silver anniversary. “Absolutely not — that’s the ultimate looking back, don’t you think?” the designer said.