Norma kamali 2020

Norma kamali 2020 DEFAULT

A Sweatpants Pioneer on the Future of Fashion

Photo: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

Fashion, like everything else, is in flux right now. No one can confidently say what’s going to happen next, which is unusual considering that’s what fashion people tend to do best. In August, a New York Times Magazine cover story titled “Sweatpants Forever” detailed the collapse of the industry as we know it, positioning Entireworld, a small direct-to-consumer basics label, as a model for a way forward. A month later, the same paper’s Styles section ran a self-reflexive follow-up headline: “Sweatpants Are Not Forever.”

In the middle of all this is Norma Kamali, a New York–based designer who has been making everything from sweatpants to swimsuits to sleeping-bag coats since 1969. In July, a month after turning 75, she put out her umpteenth pre-fall collection, and it was one of her strongest to date. (She agrees.) Inspired in part by her groundbreaking all-gray sweats collection from 1979, it was a reminder that Kamali has been making clothes that people want to live in since well before Entireworld was born — and running her business in a similar way, too. She stopped selling to department stores 15 years ago, for example, and thinks runway shows are a waste of money, at least for her. “I just do what I do, and do it well,” she told me. It’s a mantra that’s helped her business survive all these years, through 9/11, the recession, and now this.

In the few years that I’ve worked in fashion, Norma Kamali has served as something of a North Star; a sturdy tentpole in an always-tumultuous industry. She has decades of wisdom under her belt and is unusually generous when it comes to sharing it. (Rachel Comey, who runs a similarly tight ship, is one of her many mentees.) So, I figured: Who better to call in the middle of an industrywide panic over sweatpants? Below, our conversation over Zoom about how to stay cool, calm, and collected in these absolutely bonkers times.

It’s so good to see you, Norma. How are you? What’s new?

In all the decades that I’ve been an adult, I’ve never experienced anything like this, ever. Nothing near it. So my attitude has just been: Let’s regroup and rethink. This isn’t just some blip; it’s going to be at least a year, which is a long time for new habits and behaviors to become ingrained. I don’t know about you, but because I was home so much, I got used to not wearing any shoes. None. So when I visited my closet again and looked at my high heels, I thought, Girl, I don’t know if I’m putting my feet in that kind of shoe ever again. I just couldn’t connect them to what was important, and they have so many old-fashioned ideas attached to them. I’ve been wearing those [Hydro Moc] Merrells now. All these molded shoes are amazing. They’re all under $100, which is why they keep selling out. I just think this is how shoes should be made going forward. So when we did the pre-fall look book, I wanted all the models to have comfortable, modern shoes on.

From left: Norma Kamali Pre-Fall 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma KamaliPhoto: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

From left: Norma Kamali Pre-Fall 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma KamaliPhoto: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

Let’s talk about that collection. I loved it. It came at the perfect time: right after “phygital Fashion Week” in July. I’d seen so many films and images from brands, and I was inspired by a few of them in terms of the ideas that they presented. But when I saw your look book, with the models dancing around in tailored blazers made of sweatshirt material and Birkenstocks, I was like, ‘Wait, this is actually what I want to wear in real life.’ You even thought to make scarves and hats for covering up neglected roots.

I love that collection so much because it’s also what I want to wear, and I don’t see it as fashion; I see it as sustainable clothing that you’ll have forever. That collection has roots in my history, in my DNA. In 1979, I did a line of cover-ups for my swimwear in gray sweatshirt material. From when I was a kid, I always wore my brother’s gray sweatshirt when I got out of the water. So I did swimwear cover-ups, but I also did tops, and jackets, and dresses, and evening gowns. You name it. Suits, everything in this gray terry fabric. That collection, I think, was the beginning of athleisure, or that type of dressing. It’s comfortable. It’s cool. You can accessorize it any way you want. And it’s not going to be out of style anytime soon. It’s lasted, for me, since 1979!

From left: Norma Kamali Pre-Fal 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma KamaliPhoto: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

From left: Norma Kamali Pre-Fal 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma KamaliPhoto: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

It’s true. Everyone has been buying sweatpants. But what I love about your clothes is that they don’t make you choose between minimalism and maximalism. There’s so much personality and energy to them. You could wear them on the couch or to a nightclub like Studio 54. Have you seen an increase in sales at all? You told Vogue in July: “We’re selling tracksuits like we’re giving them away.”

We’ve always had tracksuits in the line, and they’re dated by season as collectibles. But they fit the moment so well. We are selling them now in every print, color, and size.

Our increases really came from hunkering down, looking at what people were buying, and producing all the collections. We made adjustments, obviously. Anything you had to wear heels with, I was like, We’re not making that. No, no, no. But we shipped everything on time. Every season. Everything! When it was time to deliver the spring collection [this year], and everyone said they were canceling all their orders, I said ‘Nuh-uh.’ We really talked and talked with [the retailers] about them taking it. Eventually, they took it, and there was no other merchandise for them to sell, so they sold it. And then they wanted pre-fall, and we had it. Then they wanted fall, and we had it.

What did you think about the “Sweatpants Forever” article in the Times? When I read it, I thought, Well, I should start looking for another job. But I also thought: Norma has been doing this forever. And I don’t just mean designing fun sweatpants — but also finding a business model that works for you. 

I have some thoughts. For me, I never wanted to be the richest or the most famous designer. I just wanted to have a creative life and sustain. When [the pandemic] happened, the first thing I did was have a call every hour on the hour with each team in my company. We looked at everything that was happening in each area, whether it was wholesale or e-commerce, and we looked at what was working and what wasn’t. The one thing that I felt was in my favor was that if you’re in that $25–50 million [size] zone, it was always the worst place to be in fashion, but that’s where I’ve always been. When you’re in that world, you survive, and you don’t get sucked into this noisy cycle. I don’t do fashion shows. I’ve never paid people to wear my clothes. I stopped selling to department stores 15 years ago. I was happy being quieter, not so famous, not so rich, doing what I love to do, paying my rent. I’m happy here.

It takes a certain personality to have that goal. Maybe it’s not a fashion personality, or whatever — it’s sort of rock star-y. But I think if people in the industry started looking at this no man’s land that everyone’s stayed away from with a fresh eye, they’d see that there’s a lot of benefit to being in the middle.

Norma Kamali Pre-Fal 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali Pre-Fal 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

Beyond fashion, I think a lot of people are trying to focus their attention right now on what matters to them, what they really want and need. How do you stay so focused and not get pulled in a million different directions?

Something I saw early on, especially the good 14–15 years that I was hand-to-mouth struggling along, was designers becoming famous and very popular for what they were doing … and then disappearing. Then someone else would become famous and popular, and everybody would want to design like they did, and then they would disappear. It just kept happening, and I kept thinking: That’s not what I want. That’s not good. I realized that I have to be relevant, but no matter what, I just have to be me. I have to make clothes that are timeless, that function, that serve a purpose, and that make people happy and feel good about themselves. Anytime that I would get tempted, like, Oh, I wish that … I’d stop myself and be like, No, you don’t wish that. Because you may disappear. It’s like meditation: Don’t go there! Come back! Focus! So many of the things I’ve done, I still do. I’m making some swimsuits from the ‘70s, and they’re some of my best sellers. It’s crazy. I’ve been making the sleeping-bag coat since the ‘70s. The sweats since the ‘80s. It paid off. If I just do what I do, and I do it well.

It’s funny, the other day I was suddenly overwhelmed by the desire for a sleeping-bag coat. It’s exactly what I want to wear this year when it gets cold in New York, and we have to hang out outside. 

The sleeping-bag coat has somehow managed to service good times and bad — from standing outside Studio 54, to after 9/11, to now. Not to sound too dramatic, but feeling as though someone has their arms wrapped around you isn’t happening so easily these days. The sleeping-bag coat does that year after year, and it never lets you down!

From left: Norma Kamali Pre-Fal 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma KamaliPhoto: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

From left: Norma Kamali Pre-Fal 2021. Photo: Courtesy of Norma KamaliPhoto: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

Looking ahead, where do you see fashion going in the next 5–10 years? 

It’s going to be tough. I do think a lot of companies aren’t coming back. I do think a lot of the traditional magazines and media will have to really rethink what they’re communicating. Are they having to create news that doesn’t exist to have people read what they’re writing? Or are they going to be more intelligent? It’s not about a color. It’s not about a hem length. It’s not about a style. I think it’s going to be more about technology — how clothes are made, their function, their performance. How they serve our physical and mental wellbeing, our lifestyle. Like, we’re taking our shoes off, but we still have these frickin’ bras on that are not comfortable. This has to be dealt with. It’s on my list. Enough already, you know! Smashed boobs in a sports bra? Like, what the hell? How can this be?

Besides fashion, what else have you been working on?

I’ve been writing this book forever, and I’m happy to say it’s finally coming out in February 2021! It’s called I Am Invincible, and it’s about the evolution of a woman through different decades in her life. I talk about what happens in each one, and how you can deal with it. It’s like a handbook on aging with power. My boyfriend and I met when I was 65. On my 75th birthday [which was in June], he proposed. So, I’m getting married!

Oh my god! That’s amazing! Congratulations. 

It’s probably going to be a Zoom-ish-type wedding. Everyone is asking me what I’m going to wear, and I said: Sweats! No shoes, no heels. I don’t think a wedding gown is appropriate right now. I think what feels comfortable is appropriate. And I love sweats. They make me feel good, and there’s a lot of ways to do them. Everyone can wear sweatpants, and drink whatever they want. That’s what I’m going to say on my invitation.

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A Sweatpants Pioneer on the Future of FashionSours:

Instagram is turning into a sort of Magic 8-Ball for Norma Kamali. OMO Gym—the proto-activewear line the designer launched around 1976—she says, “is very hot in the vintage world. People have been asking me to do it again, and I listened, and I actually had a good time with it.” For fall, these logo-heavy pieces are integrated with the ready-to-wear line, which itself is heavy on sweats. They are “understated in their grayness,” she says, “but because of that, they go with everything.”

Everything for fall means a mix of what Kamali describes as “classic prints”: zebra stripes and leopard spots, houndstooth check, and florals, with some metallics and velvet thrown in for good measure. “If you took the whole collection and threw it in a pile and just closed your eyes and picked three pieces,” she says, they would work. (NB: Kamali is designing gender-fluid clothes, so the models in the men’s and women’s look books are wearing looks pulled from the same racks.)

But back to those sweats. Why, I asked Kamali (who has a Spidey sense for things), are she and her fans feeling them right now? “It’s just like the sleeping-bag coat; there’s a safety in it, I think. Like the sleeping-bag coat was huge for us during 9/11, and I think these times are really stressful,” she says. “I mean, I can’t remember a more stressful time. Feeling safe in what we’re wearing, and comfortable in it—I think there’s a lot to that.” Pass the remote, please.

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Norma Kamali RTW Fall 2020

“I did this sort of as a roundup,” Norma Kamali explained in the midst of her fall collection preview. “For me, resort is always the beginning — June is where we have a little baby flower and we go July, August, September. So the roundup is that these are all the fabrics and prints you should have in your wardrobe and if you wear them together at any time, it’s going to be great.” Kamali was referring to her fall array of “classic prints,” i.e., animal (zebra and leopard), check (houndstooth and glen plaid) and floral prints on her signature silhouettes, which she styled (as always) on women and men. While her women’s look book featured straightforward looks for sales, her men’s included the same looks, mashed-up stylistically as dictated by each wearer’s personal style.

The biggest news for the season was the resurgence of garments from Kamali’s 1976 OMO Gym activewear line, which she re-created in terry (a grouping she will be expanding for resort) in sporty, retro shapes with graphic logos splashed atop for fall.

WWD Critique: Amidst a plethora of prints, Norma Kamali’s fall lineup marked a resurgence of her archival activewear line, OMO Gym.


Read more reviews from WWD:

Norma Kamali Pre-Fall 2020

Moon Choi RTW Fall 2020

Anna Sui RTW Fall 2020

WATCH: NYFW Fall 2020 Fashion Trends and Highlights


We’re desperately in need of a scale against which to measure brands’ sustainability; in the meantime, there’s always the test of time. “I think the comment I hear most,” said Norma Kamali, “is, ‘Oh, I still have your…[whatever].’ It really does make me feel great to think [that something I designed a long time ago] is still in their wardrobe.”

Kamali’s catalog is so large and so adaptable, if she didn’t get bored easily, she could just rest on her laurels. Timing is an art, and of late, many of the designer’s rereleases are dictated by which of her vintage pieces are trending on Instagram; hence the reappearance of the Puli jumpsuit (Look 59) for Spring. Last Fall, Kamali revisited her “Modern Sculpture” dress—a tube separated from its connected sleeves by giant round cutouts—sort of like a Henry Moore sculpture. Beyoncé and her team saw it and ordered customized versions for the “Spirit” video shot for The Lion King. It’s back for Spring as a dress, top, and jumpsuit, and in new fabrications. Speaking of art, Kamali has updated her parachute coat with a metallic silver nylon that is almost as shiny as one of Jeff Koons’s reflective pieces.

We talk a lot in the office about adapting swimwear for city life. Kamali, who is noted for her skills in this area, makes it easy with bra tops and other convertible pieces (another signature). For the daring, there are nude-illusion options; more covered but also chic are her “diaper” bottoms, first popularized by Claire McCardell in the 1940s.

Kamali is still going strong with gender-fluid design—“I think it’s becoming more and more real every season,” she noted—and she photographed her Spring 2020 collection in two sessions, one on women, the other on men, some of whom are employees. The latter were invited to bring their own accessories and to choose and style any pieces they like. They selected their own poses as well. “They all chose this [wrap] dress,” Kamali noted, “and it’s very funny because it’s a dress I did in the ’70s, and it was the first dress that guys ever bought from me.” Good design, apparently, has no expiration date. “Clothes,” states Kamali, “have to function, but they also have to make you happy.”


2020 norma kamali

Norma Kamali: Be Yourself, Against All Odds

“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 about that.

Rather, she said, “It’s what drives you and what you feel you can live with in your soul, that’s really important.”

Having grown up in Manhattan with an aspiration to become a painter, Kamali said her family wasn’t rich, “not even almost rich, very far from it.”

“So I knew I had to get a scholarship if I wanted to go further with my studies,” said Kamali. She got a painting scholarship and also got a scholarship to FIT and decided she’d study illustration. “I really did not want anything to do with fashion,” she said.

Norma Kamali: Be Yourself, Against All

She spoke about her work being anti-fashion and trend-resistant. “I did the sleeping bag coat in the early Seventies and never stopped selling it,” she said. Some of her swimsuits are as popular today as they were when she started, and have even gotten more popular. “People like the fact that I’m off the track and they feel a connection to it,” she said. She believes you just have to be yourself, against all odds. “Staying authentic is a really important thing to do,” said Kamali.

Kamali said she’s not a big fan of fashion shows these days.

“I love technology. There’s so much we can do with technology,” said Kamali, such as new ways to film fashion shows. “Communication can be quite intimate in a global way, Even more than our phones, texting and Facebook, it can bring groups of people together,” she said. She believes technology will evolve even more, especially since people can’t travel now and won’t be traveling for awhile, and fashion shows are hugely expensive. “If it’s not sustainable, why are we doing it?” she said.

Kamali was asked to predict how fashion might change as a result of the global pandemic.

“For me, everybody has to find their way. It’s a personal, global experience,” she said. She has always dabbled in smart clothing and is expanding upon that. “I’m probably not going to focus on anything throwaway.  It has to have longevity and function,” she said. She will also evaluate whether she needs all the space she has and does she need a retail store?

Kamali would like to see more manufacturing closer to home and proposed that companies start producing in Puerto Rico. “Puerto Rico has the most incredible people and the island has been beaten down and ravaged,” she said. Her dream is to see companies partner with the U.S. government and start setting up manufacturing on the island, and then ultimately housing, hospitals, schools, gardens, sports and communities could develop around that.

These days, Kamali said she’s not a big fan of masks “that scream danger,” and instead has been selling them on her web site as turbans that slide down as a mask, “and are not as depressing.”

The conversation then turned to Farrah Fawcett, who wore a Kamali swimsuit “in the most famous poster.” It turns out Fawcett had bought and posed in the one-piece red swimsuit that Kamali couldn’t stand. When the Smithsonian asked Kamali for that particular suit, she asked if she could supply a version of it, but they insisted on the original.

Discussing her interest in making gender-fluid clothes, Kamali did a quick trip down memory lane to the days of Mick Jagger wearing clothes that were enticing, provocative and seductive, and blurring masculine/feminine. She noted that AIDS shot down that spirit and she was living in the West Village and had lots of friends who died of AIDS. “In the last few years, this [gender-fluid] spirit has come up again,” she said.

She’s a firm believer that fashion tells the story of the times in which one lives. “We’re all wanting to feel comfortable, we’re wanting to feel protected, we’re wanting to feel safe. That’s a reflection of what’s going on right now,” she said.

One of the participants at home asked how Kamali learns about the customer experience. “It’s asking a lot of questions, listening to people, communicating with people, watching and looking and observing. What are people doing? People are working out, people care about their bodies. Everyone’s thinking about being healthy now.” Kamali said she loves working out and living a healthy lifestyle. “I’m very inclined to make clothes that move with the body. I studied anatomy…the human form was very important to me, so I translated that to the kind of clothes I make.”

In response to a question on what advice she’d give to a designer starting out who moved here when the pandemic was just beginning, she said, “You have to use the moment as your inspiration, and it should not be your fear. It’s good to be frightened, it gets the adrenaline flowing. You’ve come at an opportune moment, when the worst thing that can happen has happened, and maybe the best thing that can happen will happen, if you have the guts, and you’re not going to eat a lot and can live on somebody’s sofa. If you’re ready to go through an experience, and if you’re young, you can do it…You’re going to have to figure out what people are going to wear, through the pandemic and after a pandemic. How’s that for a challenge?”

Asked to describe when designing for ease and comfort first entered her mind, Kamali said she was at FIT when women were wearing silk stockings and girdles. “What came next was an expression of freedom, and I’m not going to wear any underwear,” she said. “The freedom of having the ability to not be constricted opened up tons of possibilities,” said Kamali. “Fabric that had stretch, knits with Lycra, started in the Seventies.”  She said she would use girdle fabric to make pedal pushers. “Eventually the fabrics evolved to create more comfortable clothing. The attitude in the late Sixties and Seventies was relaxed and free. People never wore skirts above their knee, and I was making HotPants as short as you can imagine, and you wore boots with them, and patchwork, and all kinds of different things like that, which were very new.”

Determined for companies to make stretchy fabrics, she recalled ordering a cotton Lycra, stripe, in the Seventies and it was the first cotton Lycra. “It took something like 1,500 yards to get a few hundred you could actually use. They would look at me and say, ‘Norma we don’t want to do this.’ And I said, ‘please.’ It had a hard start and it was a very expensive process to get the machines to stop breaking the yarn. But in time, the prices came down. It took time, and now practically everything has some sort of give to it so we can be comfortable,” said Kamali.

As for whether she’d consider offering her vintage pieces, such as her gray fleece sweats, again, she said she’s doing fleece now, and the fabric is even more evolved. She explained the reason she launched the gray fleece collection in the Seventies was that she would climb over the fences at night to swim in the city pools and would put on a gray sweatshirt when she got out of the water. She started doing cover-ups in gray sweatshirt fabrics. “I did everything I could think of in gray sweatshirt,” she said, including a coat and skirt. She knew there was something special about the pieces, but was afraid she would be knocked off. She got in touch with Women’s Wear Daily and asked for someone to help her. They introduced her to Sidney Kimmel, who owned Jones Apparel.

“In two weeks we had a deal. He produced the collection and distributed it,” she said. There were lines out of department stores because people had never seen anything like that. “The pendulum had swung from shiny, glittery to this sober [gray]…people were thinking about healthy, it was the early Eighties. It was the right moment in time for that, and it really opened the door for people wearing sweatshirts to work and on the streets.”




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Norma Kamali, 74: Embracing the Beauty of Age

At 74, she is now, and has always been, a true future-looking savant, an icon who is just as vital and culturally influential as ever. I can think of no other designer today who has been as much of her time while at the same time envisioning the future. Norma innovations include the sleeping-bag coat, sweats and the start of casual sportswear, parachute clothing, high-heeled sneakers and, of course, the incredible sculptural swimwear. It was the swimwear that first caught our attention decades ago, and the collection today is very much of the same DNA: the body plus suit become a graphic entity.

“My purpose is to help women feel good about themselves”

“My purpose in this lifetime is to help women feel good about themselves. Whatever  learnings I find for myself, I share with women. Not only making clothes that make them feel good, but also other kinds of ideas and products around a healthy lifestyle. I want to help people with how to re-evaluate themselves and their needs as they progress in years.”

At the Forefront of Wellness

In a time when wellness was not as front and center in people’s minds as it is today, Norma was at the forefront. After the 9/11 attack, Norma opened the Wellness Cafe for a wounded city, sharing her findings about a healthy lifestyle with New Yorkers with similar interests. To this community she presented products and knowledge for helping to build a stronger immune system at a time when people really needed it. 

Three Pillars of Health

What does she do to stay so vital? “For me, a healthy lifestyle includes the three pillars of diet, fitness and sleep. If you follow certain protocol, you really can feel good about your body, your attitude and your spirit, which empowers you to do things because you still feel as young in your body as you do in your head. It is not an impossible thing, it is just a commitment.”

Sleep is Essential

“I love sleep. I need it, I really do. I pay a lot of attention to sleeping. Sleep is 50% of the health plan. It is so important, it is the only way we can restore ourselves. If you are going to have a good night’s sleep, from the minute you wake up, you have to be thinking about what you do throughout the day in order to have that good night’s sleep. It can’t just come together when you put your head on the pillow.”

Here is what Norma does to ensure she gets the restorative rest she needs:

  • I rarely have coffee, but if I do, I never have caffeine after noon.
  • Meditation is mandatory to help us de-stress from the day.
  • That time between when you finish the evening meal and you go to bed is when you are closing the day: you are shutting down your phone, preparing for sleep.
  • Have pieces of clothing that you wear to bed that feel good.
  • The bed should not be a place where you watch TV. I even feel reading in bed is maybe not the best idea.
  • The room should be cool, and the bed should be made. 

What about the rest of her wellness pillars?


“I exercise every day. In Chinese medicine, around 3:30 or 4pm is supposed to be the best time to exercise, which is the time I normally exercise. Movement is so important to staying healthy.”

Intermittent Fasting

“I am a plant-based person. I occasionally have fish. I like Japanese food, simple foods, but the most important thing for me is fasting. I started experimenting with fasting in 1970, and I’ve tried several forms. I now practice intermittent fasting. I know it’s a fad now, and I think it is a really good one. I feel so much better when I do it. We eat too much!  Eating less, and really looking at how much time you are eating or not eating and putting some boundaries on that is key. We need to rest our bodies from eating all the time.

My fasting is 16-18 hours. I prepare what I am going to break the fast with, so I always have the right kind of food to break the fast with on hand. I don’t want to be in a meeting, starving, and then not make the right food decisions.”

Type Siloing

Norma works in the very tricky space of fashion and beauty. In terms of what to say, and to whom to say it, her thoughts on age, gender, and specifically the type siloing of consumer culture is something that has been top of mind for her for decades. In the ’70s, men were 50% of her customer base, and they were buying from the women’s collection. Gender- and age-specific products and messaging have a role, but as our favorite quote from Nietzsche puts it, “The will to systematize indicates a lack of integrity.” Boom. 

Discrimination in Fashion and Beauty Industries

“The fashion and beauty industry are the ones that discriminate the most on age — anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, all of that kind of stuff. If they had some sense, they would do a campaign showing people’s ages and how beautiful age can be — beautiful skin and beautiful faces. This could save the beauty industry because it is so out of step and out of date with what is really going on.”

“I met my soulmate at 65”

“When I tell people I am 74 and I met my soulmate at 65, people have this incredible interest to hear more. It’s all ages, the 20s to the 50s and 60, they want to know more, because they don’t have a sense of what aging is about. When I turned 19, my mother said to me, ‘Happy birthday. It’s all downhill from here.’ I had tears in my eyes because I thought, ‘I am going to be old like everyone else.’ Old meant you are not vital and you just fell apart.”

Age with Power

“Everyone is so afraid of aging because they don’t see it in any positive images. I decided that my mantra would be To Age With Power. You always come out of a decade stronger and more powerful than the decade before.

I’m creating a handbook on the power of aging. I’m very happy being 74, and have no interest in being younger. I’m doing so many projects now, and am feeling so excited and stimulated about the disruption out there, and all the things you can invent when there is a disruption. It’s important to make a positive message that people can actually use, actually do something so that they can feel that power too.

That age number needs to be blown out of the water. I ask people all the time, ‘How old are you?’ People are so afraid to say their age. I feel there needs to be more open conversation about it; Just say it: this is my age. Because we are all looking at and thinking of stereotypes of what a 74-year-old woman or 61-year-old man looks like. It’s not the same anymore. We are much more aware and engaged from a health perspective now as a society than we were before.”

Focus on Our Commonalities

Unlike most products I can think of in the beauty industry, her NormaLife products are neither gender-specific nor age-specific. The trend throughout the world today is to say XYZ is what makes me different, and thus separate from others, therefore I need a special XYZ. Really? How about thinking about the 99% of us that is exactly like everyone else and focus on that? In the ’70s this was common thinking, now it is a radical idea but it is the sort of radical idea we embrace. 

Makeup to “Feel good while living a modern life”

“I started the skincare line in 1993. I was going to be 50 in 1995 and it gave me pause to reflect. Whenever I put on makeup I felt like I was trying to hide my skin, or hide my age. I had to come up with something that would make me feel good while living a modern life — sweating, working out — running my life while looking good.

Men and women can both use it, people of all skin colors can all use it, and all ages can use it — isn’t that what is really modern? In 1993 it was a bit ahead of its time, but the idea is very much on today. Isn’t inclusion more modern versus all the diverse millions of items you need to buy in order to look beautiful? And with no wrinkles? I mean, that’s a fairy tale. But clearly whatever products you use on your skin, if you are not living a healthy lifestyle there is nothing you can do. If you are drinking and smoking there is no product on the planet that is going to make you look better or feel better.”

Kindness and Connection

“When I created my skin line I decided to mix in kindness as part of the conversation. I talk about the green ingredients, the sustainable packaging, but I say its best use is if a friend calls you and says they lost their job, rather than texting back an emoji, say ‘I’m coming to see you tonight.’ Go there and massage their hands, talk to them, connect with them, and you are making them feel comfortable. Everyone needs to be touched. We need more engagement and kindness.

We are in a time that is very tough, mean, and mean spirited. It is so harsh that I have been thinking about how much my generation touched each other physically. Just as friends, there was more hugging, touching, talking, crying together, doing things that was very tactile. How can you touch anyone with a phone in your hand? You can’t.”

NormaLife. Check it out.

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A strange grimace contorted her face. And hurrying by the hand was already pulling her down, burning with impatience. Ramira dutifully sank to the ground.

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