10/05/2011 12:09 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Return of the Native: Norma Kamali at New York Fashion Week Spring 2012

Pictured:  Designer Norma Kamali wearing pieces from her Walmart NK Collection. (Photo by M. Hall)

One of the highlights of New York Fashion Week for me this year was seeing designer Norma Kamali participate on day seven by showing her spring collection. In the past, Ms. Kamali has done more quiet events during fashion week, including a show at the Apple show and a show featuring QR codes at her own store.

Ms. Kamali was one of the first designers to effectively develop an online presence to connect directly with consumers, rather than with buyers and press, who for years were the primary attendees of New York Fashion Week. Perhaps her innovative use of technology over the years partially explains her reticence to put on a full, live runway show.

However, as a great admirer of her clothes, and an owner of more than a few of them, I always want to see the designer out front and center. Last year she revealed her philosophy on why she was not showing at New York Fashion Week: "I'm a background kind of person," said Kamali. "I'm better kind of not being noticed.... I want to do what I want to do, so I've never had partners, never had investors. For me to do it, I have to find a way to do it my way."

This year, the iconic designer found her way to New York Fashion Week after a long absence. She presented her Spring 2012 collection in the form of a movie at the David Rubenstein Atrium near Lincoln Center. The movie was set to the tune of Imelda Day's "All For You." Ms. Kamali presented the movie in 3D repleat with the audience wearing 3D glasses so they could best view the presentation.

Her collection was playful, part 1920s flapper and part Marilyn Monroe as we remember her in the halter dress from The Seven Year Itch. There was everything from gold lame, to simple black and white to polka dots.   Following the presentation, I had the chance to ask the designer a few questions about her return to Fashion Week and her Walmart collections.

Q1: I was glad to see you participate in NYFW this year! What made you decide to put on a show there when in the past you have done other things off-site?

NK: I felt it was the right time to connect with more people outside of my showroom. 3D is a big innovation for us, especially the shopping pages and I wanted to show this to as many people as possible.

Q2: You're always so innovative in your use of technology.  This year you are using 3D, what made you use 3D for your show and website?

NK: Fashion and technology go hand in hand beautifully. I was inspired by the documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams. Once I saw the textures and colors of the clothing, I knew I had to use this to show my spring collection. What I really love about the website concept is that it brings 3D fashion into everyone's home.

Pictured: A look from NK Spring/Summer 2012 (Image Courtesy of  Norma Kamali)

Q3: What is NK Spring 2012 all about?  I see everything from 1920s style fringe dresses to a Marilyn Monroe type gold lame look. What is your inspiration for the collection?

NK: My collection is meant to be happy, colorful and appeal to women who enjoy being women, being sensual while at the same time remaining empowered.  I love when a woman is totally confident with how she looks and presents herself with disarming sensuality.  I was inspired by my friend Jack Feldstein's neon animated work Dance Girls, and at the same time wanted to convey my own idea of a dance hall girl.

Pictured: The classic swimsuit updated for NK Spring/Summer 2012 (Image Courtesy of  Norma Kamali)

Q4: Will you continue to work with Walmart? Can you let us know, please? I see stock at, but it's hard to find the line in stores sometimes.

NK: We recently finished our contract with Walmart, which was such a terrific experience for us. As for the future, we are working on new opportunities everyday! STAY TUNED...

Q5:  Tell us about the 3D contest game that you are running online now? What is that all about?

NK: We wanted to make the film even more interactive and playful so users have a chance to choose six items that do not belong in the film. We filmed a few items throughout our 3D fashion film -- so you should definitely watch it again to figure it out! You can win a prize!

I like the hook of the contest and the prize to lure the viewer in to closely observe the fashion show. Ms. Kamali has always been something of a marketing genius, using technology to enhance the fashion experience along with incentives to bring the consumer into the notion of fashion as an entertainment.

She clearly sees the opportunity to use the art of gaming to engage customers.  To see her 3D fashion show, watch the video here:

To view additional looks, visit

Note: All images of NK fashions, and the film, are courtesy of Norma Kamali.