Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali (née Arraes, born June 27, 1945 in New York City) is an American fashion designer of Lebanese and Basque Spanish descent. She is best known for the "sleeping bag" coat, garments made from silk parachutes, and versatile multi-use pieces.[1]

Norma Kamali
Born (1945-06-27) June 27, 1945
New York City, United States
Occupationfashion designer
Years active1968–present

Early life and education

Kamali grew up middle class in New York City.[2] She aspired to be a painter.[2] Kamali attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and earned a degree in illustration.[2][3] Upon graduating, Kamali worked as a freelance fashion illustrator for a year. She also worked for Northwest Orient Airlines from 1966 to 1967.[4]


In 1969, Kamali opened a boutique with her then husband. She became known for her line of clothing made of real silk parachute material, which included the innovation of being adjustable in length and fit by draw string.[5] Kamali designed the red one-piece bathing suit worn by Farrah Fawcett in the iconic 1976 poster[6] as well as the bathing suit worn by Whitney Houston on the back cover of her 1985 debut album. Farrah Fawcett's suit was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in 2011.[7] She is also credited with popularizing the shoulder pad in womenswear in the 1980s.[8] Her work is included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[9]

Kamali was the first designer to create an online store on eBay.[1] In addition to designing clothing, she has also produced a fitness, health and beauty line.[10] In 2008, Kamali produced a collection for Walmart.[11]

Awards and honors

In 2010 Kamali received an honorary doctorate from her alma mater, Fashion Institute of Technology.[12] In 1981 Kamali won a Coty Award, called the "Winnie" but formally titled the American Fashion Critics' Award.[13] Kamali has a plaque on the Fashion Walk of Fame.[11] She received the CFDA Board of Directors Special Tribute Award in 2005,[1] and was awarded the CFDA Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016,[2] which was presented to her by Michael Kors.[14]

In 2019, Kamali received the Women's Entrepreneurship Day Pioneer Award[15] at the United Nations in recognition for her achievements in the fashion industry.This award was placed in the Congressional Record and will remain in history always.


  1. "Norma Kamali | Council of Fashion Designers of America". 2010-09-07. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  2. KRISTIN ANDERSON, Bette Midler, Vera Wang, and More Tell the Story of the Iconic Norma Kamali Vogue, JUNE 1, 2016
  3. "Norma Kamali: Wowing Seventh Avenue Has Been No Sweat for Fashion's Greta Garbo". People Magazine. 1982-12-27. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  4. Kellogg, Ann T., Amy T. Peterson, Stefani Bay, and Natalie Swindell. "Kamali, Norma." In In an Influential Fashion: An Encyclopedia of Nineteenth- and Twentieth-Century Fashion Designers and Retailers Who Transformed Dress, illustrated by Kamila Dominik, [169]-171. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2002.
  5. F, José Blanco; Hunt-Hurst, Patricia Kay; Lee, Heather Vaughan; Doering, Mary (2015-11-23). Clothing and Fashion: American Fashion from Head to Toe [4 volumes]: American Fashion from Head to Toe. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 9781610693103.
  6. Dodes, Rachel (2009-06-25). "Norma Kamali, Designer of Swimsuit from Farrah Fawcett Poster, Remembers the Star – Speakeasy – WSJ". Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  7. Moss, Hilary (2011-02-02). "Farrah Fawcett's Red Swimsuit Goes To Smithsonian (VIDEO)". Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  8. "Index Magazine". Index Magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  9. "The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Collections". Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  10. post a comment › (2011-06-21). "Norma Kamali Resort 2012 Collection on Runway Review". Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  11. "Sidewalk-Catwalk". Sidewalk-Catwalk. Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  12. "Norma Kamali". Retrieved 2012-02-21.
  13. BERNADINE MORRIS, 1981 COTY WINNERS New York Times, September 26, 1981
  14. 2016 CFDA FASHION AWARDS: Norma Kamali Receives Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award on YouTube
  15. "WEDO ANNUAL PIONEER AWARDS 2019". Women's Entrepreneurship Day. Retrieved 2019-12-06.
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