“Because I didn’t have anything to fall back on, I had to figure out how to make it work,” said Norma Kamali, speaking at FIT’s Hue Live! event Tuesday night about her 53-year career.
“And it wasn’t easy for sure. It took 14 years before anybody outside of the underground, cult-y group of people knew who I was and what I was doing. It took a long time to get to a certain point because I decided to be independent,” said Kamali.
The designer, who graduated from FIT in 1965 with a degree in illustration, was interviewed virtually by Alex Joseph, managing editor of Hue, FIT’s magazine. Topics ranged from fashion shows and gender-fluid clothing to Farrah Fawcett, the pandemic, and an offshore manufacturing proposition.
In the past, Kamali has said she never wanted to be the richest or most famous designer.
“You have to make a decision about what’s important to you. Living a creative life was for sure very important to me,” said the 74-year-old designer, who’s best known for her sleeping bag coat, parachute collection, body-conscious clothes and daring swimwear. She understood that may not mean she’d make a lot of money or be the most famous designer. She never cared