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The fun factor at Norma Kamali

Tall cutout models in designer Norma Kamali's Manhattan

Tall cutout models in designer Norma Kamali's Manhattan showroom. (Feb. 18, 2011) Credit: Lauren R. Harrison

Fringe skirts. Fishtail pants. Firemen-reflective trench coats.


These are just some of the ways that Norma Kamali is bringing back the fun factor in fashion for fall 2011.

“These are times that are a little bit more difficult than ever before …The truth is there’s very little that makes us feel good,” said Kamali, who presented her fall collection personally in her Manhattan showroom. “I'm not disrespecting the time we live in. I'm just trying to lift us up a bit . . . Let's just kind of do things that make us feel good."

And who can’t feel good in black fringe shorts or skirts? “You have one of those pieces in your wardrobe and you put it on, you’re going to have fun,” she says.

Fishtail skirts and pants (both cropped and long) make hips look thinner, Kamali says, adding “when you’re hips look thinner, you’re happier.”

There are also new takes on the classics, like pinstripes in ¼-inch, ½-inch, and 1-inch varieties. Kamali continues to deconstruct and reconstruct used parachute fabric -- this time washed, tie-dyed a light pink (also in black) with pulls that will transform hems from long to mini in a flash.

And there’s no reason to look dowdy in outerwear. Kamali's gunmetal form-fitting jackets were created with room for heatpacks in zipped-pockets. Sleeping bag coats in a matte silver with extra-long sleeves that can be worn almost like a glove or cuffed and hand-stitched quilt coats that display exquisite patchwork.

“The more you wash them, the softer they get and they start to shred and deteriorate, which we love. So this gets better and better,” Kamali said of the quilt coats. “I’m always throwing something in the washing machine … I hope I’m not giving the impression that I’m a super homemaker type, because I’m not. But I just love the sound of the washing machine.”

That wash-and-wear ease extends to evening looks as well. Throw on a black mesh or cobalt blue opaque seamless body suit under washable cutout dresses and shirts and you’re ready for a night on the town. Or be a bit more daring with color-blocked nude mesh and horizontal stripes of foil (a la Rihanna sans ruffles at the Grammy Awards this year).

Faux-fur vests and black tops studded with large and small white dots round out the collection. After, all, girls just want to have fun!

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