Style Points is a weekly column about how fashion intersects with the wider world.The first thing I notice about Norma Kamali over Zoom—besides her impossibly youthful, famously acupunctured face and her signature cat-eye glasses, that is—is the quote painted on the wall behind her, by Søren Kirkegaard: “Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.” “The man I’m with,” she explains, demurely referring to her fiancé, “sits opposite me, and he looks at his favorite quotes on my wall, and I look at my favorite quotes on his wall.” It’s not hard to imagine someone adorning their walls with some of Kamali’s own wisdom someday. It almost feels reductive to call her a designer, because she is about a thousand other things—a wellness pioneer, a guru to generations of young designers, a font of assorted advice, and now an author, with her book I Am Invincible having come out earlier this month. The book grew out of a 50th birthday present she gave a friend—a Moleskine illustrated with Kamali’s 50 tips on turning 50. She framed the book-length version as a primer for every stage of life, going up to the century mark and beyond; She calls it “the handbook that I wish I would’ve had.”
The designer in her thirties.
Courtesy of the subject.
Kamali wasn’t always into what we now call wellness (and what she prefers to term “healthy lifestyle”) but she grew up with a health-nut mom, to whom the book is dedicated. “I just thought my mother was a freak,” she remembers. “When you have friends coming to your house, and your mother has a big juicer and herb gardens on the windows in Manhattan, in a little apartment? I was always embarrassed by her crazy practices and of course, I’ve turned into her, clearly.”
Norma Kamali: I Am Invincible
When Kamali first took up meditation and plant-based eating, people called her “kooky,” she says. Now, they’d probably call her prescient. She’s since made detours into everything from juicing to creating products with her favorite super-ingredient, olive oil, to the aforementioned facial acupuncture. Fashion, after all, has its limits. “I think a dress can make you feel good. However,” she says, “a dress comes off. There’s no dress, there’s no coat, there’s no pair of shoes that can compete with the feeling…