Q&A With Norma Kamali

“Yes. What are you, kidding?” This was Norma Kamali‘s response when I asked if she brings her own olive oil to restaurants. Norma is just as knowledgable and charismatic as she is talented. I sat down with the iconic designer recently (she also interviewed me for her newsletter, BTW! ) to discuss all things KamaliKulture, her inspiration and her skin care regimen (seriously, she looks like she sees a WITCH DOCTOR to maintain skin tone like that in her 60s. The woman looks incredible). Check out the Q&A below.

Beauty Blogging Junkie: The first question I have for you are WHAT are those sunglasses and are they still for sale. Go. 
Norma Kamali: The sunglasses are Kamali Kulture! They’re under $100.

BBJ: Tell me about how Kamali Kulture started. 
NK: We want to be able to do more under $100. We’re even designing exclusive prints for Amazon and Zappos. And just because everything is under $100, lots of things are $50 range. You can build a nice wardrobe. Go-to pieces. You’ll wear them more than you think you’re going to. My own boyfriend prefers my KamaliKulture collection compared to one of my more intense studded skirts, which, according to him, he can “look past.” It’s really not a watered down version of what I do. It’ll be sold at amazon.com and zappos.com, in addition to kamalikulture.com.

BBJ: I know you love a ’50s aesthetic! Is there a specific era that inspires you most? 
NK: Inspiration: Several periods tend to be timeless. When I was young, I was so into the ’30s and ’40s. I mean, Cary Grant, who’s topped him? I loved Carole Lombard. Gene Tierney. They were extraordinary. The way they looked, the makeup and clothes could be worn today. It was all about timeless American quality. My mother said they looked to magazines, but they really went to the movies for inspiration. Movies were american culture at the time. As you move forward, influences merge and things that you really love kind of start blending with things you used to love.

BBJ: What’s your secret to looking great? 
NK: The overriding factor for me the fitness/health aspect of it. You really have to have a base–it’s not about makeup. Then you can do anything. You can put anything on and look beautiful. Feeling good and feeling healthy is the key. However, I used to eat bacon cheeseburgers and smoke a cigarette at the same time. I didn’t always have this belief. Now I do Physique57 nearly every day. In the ’80s, I had to beg my friends to move into this old refrigeration building in the Meat Packing District. There was blood flowing down the streets. I stopped eating meat and started exclusively eating nonprocessed foods. It should be a law that people eat less meat. Diabetes would disappear.

BBJ: What’s your best fashion tip? 
NK: If people can really believe in their instincts and wear what they love, not what they think they should love, that’s when they look best. The best way to get a sense of how important that is? A little girl, 3 or 4, will wear all the things she loves–at the same time. She’s happy, and she feels really good. Why? Because she loves her outfit. We are much happier if we’re wearing what we love. It makes us feel good. It’s authentically what we love. We love it, despite the cost.

BBJ: What’s your favorite design of your entire career?
NK:  I have perspective, so it’s hard to name my absolute favorite. Tomorrow I might do something that’s my new favorite. What you’re wearing is one of the styles that I still wear. [editor’s note: Dying. I was wearing her iconic all-in-one tunic in black] I designed it in ’74. Look at how it’s holding up. It’s an antique, actually. I’m very happy that this style can do all these things. It’s an important part of my wardrobe today. There are a lot of things I’ve done that I’m embarrassed about. Shoulder pads, specifically.

BBJ: What’s your best beauty tip?
NK: Olive oil, to stay regular. Whatever goes in, the faster it goes out, the better. A good swig of olive oil will help. A healthy practice. Diet stops that from happening. You see it in your skin, eyes, etc. Having olive oil on a regular basis is important. If you’re not getting the results, take a couple swigs straight from the bottle. It’s a also a great massage oil. The nutrition you get from drinking it and having it with your food goes into your skin. Neferiti used it with sand as an exfoliant. But I like to mix it with the pink sea salt I sell at my Wellness Cafe. It’s also a great sex lube.

BBJ: AMAZING. Love it, Norma. What about your skin care regimen? 
NK: I apply a Calcium linament in the shower made of olive oil and calcium. It’s a creamy kind of lotion that treats everything from diaper rash to bed sores for the elderly.

Thanks to Norma for sharing her fashion, beauty and wellness tips with us!

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