Norma Kamali Pre-Fall 2019
Norma Kamali debuted a for-women-and-men collection last season. Gender fluidity remains her preoccupation, both in the specifics of her offerings (pieces from Pre-Fall will sport newly designed labels with dual sizing info) and as an important social concept that she expects will have a seismic impact on the fashion industry. In this designer’s book, progress is seeing Ezra Miller in bunny ears, high heels, and gender-bending looks, including a white jumpsuit of her design in, of all places, Playboy. We’ve come a long way when a men’s magazine seems more in tune with the times than the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show (which Kamali has a new concept for, by the way). Needless to say, there were no wings in her Pre-Fall collection, but the fringe was flying in new colors.
This lineup differed from the one that preceded it mostly in surface details and colors. Denims were offered in two new abstract prints, and a black-and-white palm pattern was in line with the endless-summer theme seen everywhere for Spring. If the clear trench the designer suggests for layering and protection will be a hard sell, surefire hits include the swimwear-as-streetwear stylings of graphic cut-out bathing suits paired with stretchy mermaid skirts—a look, the designer notes, that reemerges with some frequency. “I think everybody is aware of the fact that an active lifestyle is part of the plan, even if the plan is in your head,” notes Kamali, an athleisure pioneer. “Looking the part is almost as good as living the part.”
Women’s—and men’s—roles are changing apace, and fashion needs to stay up to date. We’re currently in the process of evaluating feminism, stereotypes, styles, and how we dress for our “parts,” and what we find appealing and attractive today is vastly different than was customary in past eras. Cleavage, according to Kamali, is out. “We’re not thinking about sexy in the same way,” the designer says. “I make sexy clothes but when I’m doing them they have a sporty part to them; it’s more about the physical body rather than breasts, or rather than that kind of clichéd presentation of a woman.” In short, it’s less about showing skin than the ways the body can “talk” through clothes.