Following her colorful, occasion-minded spring collection, which was all about using fashion as a way to take control of personal happiness, Norma Kamali’s pre-fall lineup was all about a wardrobe reset.
“This collection is a refresh for me,” Kamali said, noting the effect COVID-19 had on dressing — first with consumers yearning for sweats, and then emerging back into the world with a desire for party-minded styles for the uptick of weddings and parties (as seen successfully through her consistently bestselling Diana dress, which comes in the form of a strapless mini and pickleball silhouettes for pre-fall). “And then I would say by the time this collection has shipped, there’s going to be layoffs, there’s going to be an economy that impacts every one of us, in some way. It’s very hard to deny that’s not going to affect the way we dress and what we think about. So, of course I have to say, ‘You know what, this means a wardrobe refresh.’ We’re even feeling it now — a sense of responsibility and refresh or cleanup. I kept thinking about zen and how in all the chaos that’s going on, you can’t really fight it and you can’t come into it, so you have to be zen in the middle of it. There’s a clean purity about that state of mind, and the state of mind often reflects how you’re going to dress.”
Kamali’s take on summer zen meant classic menswear inspirations for its clean lines, as seen through a variety of slim-fitting suiting layers for her wide-ranging clientele. There were skirts with blazers, vests with pleated shorts, classic white Habotai shirts (and a belted shirtdress) with maxiskirts and catsuits, and more, layered with shiny (and protective) 3M outerwear.
“You can expect Audrey Hepburn to be wearing all the styles,” Kamali said of the strong lineup, which continued to reference the designer’s archive with modernized proportions and fabrications, like pre-fall’s sleek black vegan leather layers.
Kamali also reintroduced terry into her collection, which first debuted within her “Sweats” collection on WWD’s cover in November 1980 and made its reappearance throughout her 2014 and 2015 collections. Each iteration was tweaked for their respective eras, which proved true once again for pre-fall through “not sweats, but tailored terry” silhouettes, like a girly pleated skirt with cropped bra top and matching trench coat or minimalist strapless dress of varying lengths.
“I thought very hard about the price for everything in here and was asking questions while designing and negotiating with vendors. The point is, we have good relationships and want to keep them going, while realizing that this is not a time to do whatever you want and not think about price. It’s sort of the same as when I started the terry the first time; it was a time where people were thinking about price and what they could afford. There’s a sense of responsibility to women — I’m responsible for making sure I’m not making her feel bad that she can’t afford this.”