“While I never think of myself as a nostalgic designer, I do think about timeless style every season,” the voice of Norma Kamali remarked at the beginning of her spring collection video presentation. However, leading up to the spring season, Kamali thought a lot about parallels of current times with those of the 1960s and ’70s, as well as the beginnings of her career.
“The protests [of the Vietnam War] were really fascinating, they really brought on flower power — the idea of, instead of protesting anger, you protest it with flowers. It meant kindness, it meant, ‘This is not good, we don’t want it, we want peace and love.’ Peace and love and flower power — that feels so much of what we need today,” the designer said over Zoom. “The uncertainty of the times and the looming sense that people can die, the looming sense of our leadership not being something we can hold onto. We have a lot of questions and a lot of fear, but without kindness, we can’t survive that. Baby Boomers recognized that kindness, flower power, love and peace had to be the dominant theme. Not only did fashion show it, but music, film, the arts. Now, we have all of these fears, all of these anxieties, but we’re not finding a place for kindness, for love and peace. And so, I really enjoyed working on this collection on a lot of levels. One, it reminded me of my beginnings and what I started with, what I was doing as a designer.”
The look: Kamali’s spring collection offered a look back into her own design past, offering digitally printed interpretations of clothes she referred to as “Americana comfort clothing” with a message of peace and love.
Quote of note: “The first clothes I made were modern clothes — miniskirts were new, and I wanted something really short! So I did HotPants with jackets, and I cut up these vintage quilts from the ’20s and ’30s that were spectacular pieces of art. They were one-of-a-kind.” Kamali said of her collection’s ample quilted motifs and retro silhouettes. “The juxtaposition of this — it’s almost like comfort food, but it’s Americana comfort clothes, but not anything anyone had seen before. Of course, it seems crazy calling HotPants modern now, but with the jackets and knee-high boots was so right….All of that is Americana comfort clothing and a feeling of being safe in them, and the kindness and handwork and appreciation for that in modern styles was my beginnings, it’s how i sort of made my name.”
Key pieces: The most eye-catching styles boasted digitized patchwork, crochet and rose-based floral in-depth prints in new and modernized archival washable, easy silhouettes from head to toe, i.e: sleeping bag coats, signature dresses, HotPants with matching jackets, cardigans over slinky dresses, etc. Burnout velvet floral styles (plus a few other vibrant miscellaneous prints, tiered styles and a few embroidered peasant tops) were also layered into the mix.
The takeaway: Kamali’s modern interpretation of her own archive through digitized prints worked especially well on the brand’s easygoing styles, as did the message of comfort through artisanal works.