Singing the Praises of Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali

The question isn’t who isn’t going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me?Norma Kamali

You may not know New York City fashion designer, Norma Kamali.  But at 71, she is ever a fashion influencer and inventor, pushing boundaries and bettering the lives of women. Here are some things to know about Norma Kamali – Allow me to sing her praises:

She has been in the fashion business since 1967

She has won awards for fashion, film, interior design, and architecture

She is known for ‘the sleeping bag coat‘ of the 1970s, shoulder pad trends of the 1980s, and her influential swimwear collection (she designed the iconic red one-piece swimsuit worn by Farrah Fawcett)

She loves denim and always has denim in her collections: “It’s American. And I am an American designer.”

She, in fact, is a jeans wearer and prefers jeans to the red carpet

She designed active wear long before it became ‘athleisure’

She created the Stop Objectification Campaign to build awareness of the universal objectification of women and with a goal to “free women of the stigma of those experiences that can take them down emotionally and spiritually, inhibiting their chances for reaching their true potential.”

She is committed to wellness as a lifestyle (something she learned from her mother!) and the power of meditation

Quite simply, Norma Kamali is a woman ahead of her time.

 

 

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Make Way for Alexa Chung!

Alexa Chung | Photo: Zackery Michael

Alexa Chung | Photo: Zackery Michael

I’m not making something that has got a crazy high price point. I want to make sure its something that is speaking to just everyone on the street.” ~ Alexa Chung

Exclusive news via The Business of Fashion: British television personality and model Alexa Chung will be launching her own design label in May 2017. Chung will step into the role of creative director at the helm of Alexachung, a contemporary-priced ready-to-wear line. After working on successful collaborations with clothing brands AG Jeans and Madewell, Chung has garnered the confidence to create her own label: “I just wanted the freedom to sort of make my own world, without someone else’s brand’s brief to stick to.” 

Known as a fashion icon and a style guru, I can tell that Alexa Chung loves fashion and creative pursuits. I enjoy her interviews with Vogue UK, “The Future of Fashion,” and her fashion voice hits a real chord with women in Britain and beyond. At 32, she represents the future of fashion in many ways – with her charm and wit, you have the feeling that she will indeed make her own world with her fashion line. Fashion is evolving and I get the sense that Alexa Chung’s curiosity, combined with her sense of style, will keep her finger on the pulse of what sells. Considering that her collaborations with AG Jeans and Madewell sold out after their debuts, I think she can do it.

 

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Princess Diana and The Story of a Dress

Princess Diana in a Catherine Walker design; Getty Images/

Princess Diana in a Catherine Walker design; Getty Images/Anwar Hussein

Getty Images

Getty Images/Karwai Tang

Getty Images/Anwar Hussein

Getty Images/Anwar Hussein

One of Princess Diana’s favorite designers was Catherine Walker. News that a dark green, sequined Catherine Walker dress that the Princess first wore in 1986 on a visit to Australia, and subsequently wore three more times, is going up for auction in a few weeks in The United Kingdom. It is expected to sell for over $100,000. Catherine Walker created the dress for Diana over 30 years ago. According to the auction house, the dress has a unique story: it was part of a large order for the Australia trip. Princess Diana didn’t ask to see the sketches, as she trusted Catherine Walker’s good taste, and she knew that she would create a beautiful dress. And she did: for the evening, Diana wore the dress with a diamond choker given to her as wedding gift by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, Charles’s grandmother. The dress lived on with Princess Diana and will now be recorded in auction history. Continue reading

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Kira is Designing Her Life

Kira, from her very first blog post

Kira, from her very first blog post: While She Walks!

Kira Ross is completing her Junior year of high school. In many ways, she is like other high school students. And yet, she isn’t. Because Kira is not afraid to stand out. In fact, she wants to be different, and expresses that through her clothes – original designs she makes herself. Here is Kira …

MKG: Did you always love fashion?

KIRA: Yes, I always loved dressing myself in the mornings. It was my way of making the school day more interesting. It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I started sewing my own clothes ad I became more ‘hands-on’ with my fashion interest.

MKG: What is it about fashion and self expression?

KIRA: I like wearing things that are different; I prefer to stand out than to be like everyone else. There’s a wall you have to get over – it’s more about whatyou think of yourself than what others think of you. Once you climb that wall, you just keep going further. Continue reading

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Walking Down the Aisle in Wedding Pants?

Elizabeth Suzann, a Nashville-based designer, offers her Florence pant in washed silk crepe-back satin for $365 for brides

Elizabeth Suzann, a Nashville-based designer, offers her Florence pant in washed silk crepe-back satin for $365 for brides

Yesterday’s New York Times Style Section posed an interesting question: is today’s bride choosing to wear pants instead of the classic bridal dress? The answer is – in some cases … yes.  For women who simply don’t want to wear a dress or want to make a different statement on their day as a bride, designers are creating more bridal options, including pants. In the article, Edwina Ehrman, the Curator of Textiles and Fashion at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, who was also curator of the exhibition, Wedding Dresses 1175-2014 for the museum, explained: “Wedding dresses, like every other garment in our wardrobes, reflect social and cultural change.”

Could it be a sign of the times? The need to be less restricted and conventional? Or could it be something more fundamental? Continue reading

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Showroom Style at Meredith Banzhoff

Optimized-P1050796When you first step into Meredith Banzhoff’s west-side showroom in the heart of New York’s garment district, you are drawn to the clean, crisp, and colorful clothes and the custom design of the showroom. And as Meredith herself showed me her studio, I felt her personal connection to her clothes and her environment. It’s all personal for Meredith, in fact; she refers to every shirt by her name and much of the furniture and handiwork is from her native Pennsylvania. The four original shirts – four original “girls”- were given names: Bella, Catherine, Liz and Jane. These four are the originals, born from a desire to create the epitome of comfort, construction, and tailoring. Meredith’s commitment to “40 Points of Measure” is the foundation for the design of her shirts. The brand is now three years old and though it has grown to include shirt-inspired pieces, the core is still the classic, made in New York shirt.

I knew when I first interviewed Meredith Banzhoff that I would visit her studio and get fitted for a custom shirt of my own. And that is just what I did – to my utter delight! I ended up with a navy, Isabella shirt, perfectly-fit with just the right combination of stretch. I look forward to seeing where Meredith Banzhoff* is headed!

*TFIO readers: want to own your own Meredith Banzhoff shirt? Through April 15, 2016: you can purchase any of the four “original girls” styles for 30% off the original price. Just use Promo Code: TFIO30%

The four original girls: Bella, Catherine, Liz, and Jane (Meredith's favorite)

The four original girls: Bella, Catherine, Liz, and Jane (Meredith’s favorite)

Measuring the perfect-fit

Measuring the perfect-fit

Meredith Banzhoff Showroom

Meredith Banzhoff Showroom

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Rally Behind Rallier!

Oliva Rose Fay

Oliva Rose Fay, wearing a Rallier  dress from her debut collection

Incorporating social missions into fashion and accessories brands is an undeniable and exciting trend. There is such a synergistic relationship between wearing a brand you love and supporting change you believe in.” ~ Olivia Rose Fay

There are some stories that tug at your heart. Some fashion stories that soar beyond fashion to the core of the human condition. One feature on TFIO about fashion and philanthropy was not enough to tell the entire story of Olivia Rose Fay, the CEO and Creative Director of Rallier. Rallier officially debuted its first collection, consisting of 15 dresses, just last month, February 2016. But Olivia’s inspiration and purpose started when she was a young girl watching her grandmother, who had immigrated to San Francisco from Shanghai in 1954. Olivia’s grandmother supported her family by designing dresses, eventually opening her own dress store called Lily’s.

At the age of 28, Olivia has already begun the process of conceptualizing her own legacy by looking at a cause that matters to her most: education for girls and gender inequality. Continue reading

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Zac Posen: “We Live in a Diverse World”

Photo: Imaxtree

A look from Zac Posen’s 2016 Fall Collection – Photo: Imaxtree

Two nights ago designer Zac Posen sent 25 black models down the runway for his Fall 2016 show – inspired by Princess Elizabeth of Toro (a Ugandan lawyer who became the first East African woman to be admitted to the English bar). Said Posen: “We live in a diverse world and it is essential it is represented in the fashion industry—it has always been critical to me, as well as a key component of my collections—whether it’s shapes, sizes or skin color—as my customers are global and part of all diverse groups.”

The fight for diversity on the runway has been long and slow-moving. But Posen is making an important statement and it is a welcome and refreshing change in the right direction. Hopefully, it will inspire other designers to do the same. I’m buying it!

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A Fashion Trio for the Ages: Hepburn, Givenchy, and Sabrina

Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, wearing Hubert de Givenchy creation: photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Audrey Hepburn as Sabrina, wearing Hubert de Givenchy creation: photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Last night TCM aired one of my all-time favorite Audrey Hepburn movies, 1954’s Sabrina. Sabrina tells the tale of a chauffeur’s daughter who pines over the handsome playboy son of the wealthy, Long Island family for whom her father works. After her father ships her off to Paris to attend cooking school and kick her crush, Sabrina returns two years later sporting a complete makeover, including a new haircut and Parisian style. When Sabrina accepts an invitation to a fancy dance from her former crush, she promises to wear “a lovely evening dress with yards of skirt and way off the shoulders.” And so enters Sabrina, as the belle of the ball, in the strapless, iconic Hubert de Givenchy dress that would launch the french designer and one of the greatest collaborations in film and fashion history: Hepburn and Givenchy. And here, the story behind the story gets more interesting … Continue reading

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Spotlight on Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

Isaac Mizrahi

Until then, fashion was all craft to me, merely sewing and knitting. That night I started communing with the muses, ones that would appear when I was being creative to show me the way. That night I consciously made the decision to become a fashion designer; those pictures galvanized me into action in pursuit of the career I eventually realized.” ~ Isaac Mizrahi: a retrospective of his work – “Isaac Mizrahi, An Unruly History” opens at the Jewish Museum in New York City on March 18

I have always been charmed by fashion designer, Isaac Mizrahi. Born in Brooklyn, New York, he had aspirations to act but those dreams were coupled with tremendous stage fright. He grew up surrounded by fashion – his father owned a children’s manufacturing company, and his mother had a “major obsession with clothes.” He learned to sew at an early age for his mother’s friends and for himself. But his passion for fashion and design struck him hard in July 1977, with the issue of Vogue Magazine’s special portfolio by Richard Avedon, showing the year’s fall collections. It was those images that inspired Isaac Mizrahi to become a fashion designer – and the acting world’s loss was to become the fashion world’s gain.

 

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