Dear Shaded Viewers,
Norma Kamali's iconic designs have reached several generations of women since her 1967 debut. She has captivated a wide client-base, not only through the timelessness and versatility of her garments, but also through the interactive nature of her brand. Her dynamic flagship store in New York – where dance parties and beach karaoke are the norm – is just one aspect of Kamali's ability to imbue zest into her label. With a wellness cafe, an astrology raffle on her website and skype personal shopping services, there is little ground that she hasn't covered.
Among the first designers to launch an ecommerce website, she continues to pioneer the technological forefront of fashion through the launch of an interactive 3D site, normakamali3d.com. Starting September 15, shoppers can peruse her vivid designs (including 3D shopping pages, videos and an embedded fashion game) in style – Kamali created anaglyphic glasses in her signature cat-eye shape especially for the event. I caught up with the designer to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into her stylish inauguration.
Ali Leier: You have an exciting 3D website launch for Spring 2012. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the multimedia event?
Norma Kamali: 3D is on the verge of becoming mainstream and not just for animated games and films. Fashion is a beautiful partner for 3D because it makes the clothes pop and it is a fun way to look at fashion.
AL: Do you think the 3D shopping experience is the future for ecommerce?
NK: Yes, everything is pointing in that direction. From Apple on, everyone is creating easy access to 3D. YouTube makes it easy to switch from 2D to 3D and the more access, the more commonplace it will become.
AL: With so many brands out there, do you think that ease of shopping like your scan life technology and "try before you buy" services are fundamental to business?
NK: Yes… we learn more everyday of how to refine the new technology as new inspiration is discovered.
AL: Where do you see the future of fashion going with technology?
NK: It is the future of everything including fashion. If we can't tell the story directly to a global community, we are missing an enormous opportunity.
AL: How has it changed fashion week and the live runway show from a designer perspective?
NK: It is the democracy of fashion… everyone sees the collections, not just the fashion elite.
AL: Have you seen a shift in clientele with the more interactive nature of your store/brand?
NK: Yes. The more they get to know what the brand is about, especially my personal impact on it, the more we engage a wider client base.
AL: Lady Gaga has recently worn your garments. How do you think that represents the development of your lifestyle brand?
NK: It doesn't… I have a celebrity following that comes on its own and pays for the clothing like all of my clients. Gaga is wearing her mothers wedding gown in her last video ('You and I') and I made that gown. In the promo for the tour featuring that song she is wearing one of my studded swimsuits. How nice to reach several generations.
AL: Speaking of icons, the iconic red bathing suit worn by Farrah Fawcett was dedicated to the Smithsonian this year…
NK: Yes, her family did that. Farrah told me that the suit was in her bag. She put it on, they took photos and the rest is history. No stylists, no big deal. She bought the suit and happened to have it.
AL: Do you ever see yourself doing another high street collaboration, like the one you did with Walmart in 2008?
NK: Yes, very much so… my next goal.
AL: What's next for Norma Kamali?
NK: You have an hour?