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Norma Kamali Transcript

 Kerry Diamond:             Hi everyone. Welcome to Radio Cherry Bombe, the number one female focused food podcast in the universe. I'm your host, Kerry Diamond. I hope everyone is doing okay and I appreciate you tuning in during such a challenging time. For today's episode, we're airing a special talk I did during New York Fashion Week, which seems like a million years ago, with Norma Kamali, live in front of an audience at Springs Studios in Tribeca.

Kerry Diamond:             Norma Kamali is an icon. She's been a fashion designer since 1969, and her entrepreneurial spirit has kept her in business, and at the cutting edge, all this time. Norma also has been a wellness proponent for decades and today shares her self-care tips on social media. Some of those might come in handy right now.

Kerry Diamond:             Before we get to Norma, let's thank our sponsor the Wines of Rioja, for supporting Radio Cherry Bombe. Rioja produces an incredible range of styles, reds, whites, rosés and sparkling wines. To learn more, visit

Kerry Diamond:             To keep everyone connected and up to date, we just launched a new daily program, Radio Cherry Bombe Live, via Instagram Stories. We usually go live at 11:00 AM, EST, and we've had great guests, like Raphael Espinal, the new executive director of the Freelancers Union, who is fighting for the rights of contractors, gig workers, and hourly employees. If you're a freelancer, you should join because it's free, and there is strength in numbers. And Sophia Roe, wellness advocate and Cherry Bombe cover girl, who talked about smart ways to store food and build a pantry.

Kerry Diamond:             Also, if you're a small business owner or service worker in financial need, visit for a list of possible sources of help. We'll keep updating this list as we learn of new initiatives.

Kerry Diamond:             Now, here's my conversation with Norma Kamali.

Kerry Diamond:             I grew up in Staten Island, and as a young woman growing up over there and reading fashion magazines, Norma Kamali was this magical name as you can imagine. So fast forward and Norma is as relevant today as she was four decades ago. You were dressing Farrah Fawcet and Christie Brinkley back then, and today the Kardashians are fans, Gwen Stefani's a fan, Priyanka Chopra, it's amazing. So the question is, has Norma Kamali had nine lives, like a fashion cat, in those fashion glasses? Has it been a roller coaster ride, or smooth sailing? We're here to find out. Are you ready to tell us all your secrets?

Norma Kamali:              I'm ready.

Kerry Diamond:             Because everyone wants to know.

Norma Kamali:              I'm ready.

Kerry Diamond:             Okay. All right, so let's go. So much is a flash in the pan today, but you've stayed relevant for a very long time, what do you attribute that to?

Norma Kamali:              I think early on, one of the wisest things ... And when I was 18, I was so smart, I don't know if I can ever be as smart again. But I did decide that I wanted to have a creative life and I enjoyed the process so much. And by having that commitment, you really have to believe in your authentic self, no matter what else is happening. And so, that's the one word of advice I can give is just stand behind your authentic self and it will survive, it just does. When you try to be somebody else, it's very hard. I think we appreciate people when we see that they've done something, and when they change to be good for everybody to love them, it never works. So not everybody's going to love what you do, but those who do, will be there with you.

Kerry Diamond:             So you knew you wanted a creative life, when did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?

Norma Kamali:              I went to FIT, actually, I always wanted to be a painter. I went to FIT, I had a painting scholarship and a scholarship to fashion illustration at FIT. My mother kept saying, "I think you just need to learn how to type because this art stuff is not going to get you anywhere." I said, "I will never learn how to type."

Kerry Diamond:             Great, is my mother here? My mother made me take a typing class in high school.

Norma Kamali:              Yeah, the same thing. Yeah, I didn't, I didn't. So I had a job interview for my fashion illustration in the Garment Center. I walk into this office and this guy has his feet up on his desk and he's eating a tuna sandwich. I'm so nervous, I've thought of nothing else but having the most spectacular portfolio. He says, "Put your portfolio down over there and come here, and turn around for me." And I hear my mother saying, "You better get this job. You better get this job." So I turn around and I am so humiliated and embarrassed, I ran out crying with my portfolio and I just told my mother I didn't get the job.

Norma Kamali:              I looked in the Times, there was a job listing at North West Orient Airlines, and I got a job. I don't understand how I got the job, but in sales, in the office. This was '60s, and I traveled to London, round trip, for $29, for four years, every weekend, and London was just starting to happen. And that, before that, it was Mad Men fashion, which I had no connection to whatsoever. But when I was in London I said, "This is my soul. This is who I am." I brought clothes back, I opened a little store for $285 a month, brought the clothes in, sold them, and then I started to make clothes myself, and that's how I sort of fell into it.

Kerry Diamond:             So if you read your Instagram bio it says, "Designer since 1967, an advocate of a healthy lifestyle since 1980." So you know the next question. That begs the question, what was going on for those 13 years in between?

Norma Kamali:              Well, the truth is, nobody was thinking about anything healthy, just we were going to live forever. Baby boomers were, "We own it all. We're not going to ..." But I became interested in a healthy lifestyle when two of my very best friends died of AIDS. My birthday's June 27th, one friend was June 26th, and the other was June 28th, and we were like this. They died in a six month period and I was devastated, beyond. And I'm an action person, and since it was about the immune system not being able to keep them alive, I decided to try to learn about the immune system. So I went West, I went to California, and Arizona, New Mexico, met people who were talking about alternative health and wellness, but the word wasn't used then, it was more about understanding options for building the immune system.

Norma Kamali:              And then, in 9/11, I opened the Wellness Café because I thought everybody's immune system is compromised now and I sourced, and curated, and developed products that would be alternatives to personal care. If you're brushing your teeth, why not use a toothpaste that cleans your system and pulls bacteria out, or a mouthwash that alkalies your system as well as doing what it's supposed to be doing. And so I've had this parallel life in this area for a very long time, but it really came about because of the loss of two very dear friends.

Kerry Diamond:             You're talking about from the '80s up until 2001, that was way before designers were lifestyle brands and dipping their toes into food. Did you encounter a lot of, what is Norma doing? Is Norma crazy?

Norma Kamali:              Well, I mean, I understood that having a conversation about that would really ... People think if you're a designer you're a cuckoo bird anyway, so I thought I don't really need to add any more to that definition. So I kept it very quiet, and I was very personally entrenched in it. And then when I opened the Wellness Café, I would have talks and invite people to see films on food, and Michael Pollan was really writing books early on. I don't know if you know who he is, but you should really read his books if you have any interest in this topic.

Norma Kamali:              And so, amazing people came out of the woodwork, totally knowledgeable and very stimulating conversation, and we would have classes, different workout classes, and teas and tea ceremonies, and all of that, before you could find any of it anywhere. So there was a hidden culture interested in the early 2000s.

Kerry Diamond:             Right. I'm going to pull you back to the '70s and the '80s before we get to that decade. So 1980 was also the year Studio 54 closed, and I did not hang out at Studio 54, but I did a little research. I couldn't believe that Studio 54 was only open for three years. I mean, it burned so bright in the mind of every fashion person, even fashion people who weren't alive in the '70s. What was your connection to Studio 54?

Norma Kamali:              Well, it's an odd story. Actually, Ian and I were girlfriend, boyfriend, very quietly-

Kerry Diamond:             Ian Schrager.

Norma Kamali:              Ian Schrager, yes.

Kerry Diamond:             The co-founder of Studio 54.

Norma Kamali:              And Ian is still my best friend and introduced me to my soulmate. Thank you very much, Ian. But Ian was, and is, one of the most extraordinary people I've ever met, and extraordinarily talented. His ability to create an experience for people, every night and all of the big nights, was just something you couldn't imagine. And we all talk about creating an experience for people in this new world that we're in, but he still is the master of understanding how to transform someone's life in a night, and that's why each night was like a year, and it just left a memory. Now I never have done drugs and sort of am very sober, so being in Studio 54 was not something I could do, so I never went to Studio 54.

Kerry Diamond:             What?

Norma Kamali:              Everybody writes that I was there and is sure I was there. I would go before to see what everything looked like because I'd hear from Ian and see sketches and pictures of different things they were working on, and I would go in and take a look and see what happened. And then Steve would call throughout the night to talk about what was going on-

Kerry Diamond:             Steve Rubell.

Norma Kamali:              Steve Rubell. So I would know what was going on, but no, I was never there.

Kerry Diamond:             That's hilarious. I couldn't find any pictures of you there. So I was like-

Norma Kamali:              That's true.

Kerry Diamond:             ... "What did she wear when she went to Studio 54?"

Norma Kamali:              Yeah. Now people say, "I have a picture of you there," I said, "Well that's good. Was I having a good time?" And it's just like, no, I don't think I was-

Kerry Diamond:             So you were the one person who did not have to wait in line, or have any trouble getting in the door and you stayed home?

Norma Kamali:              But my staff actually dated his staff, and so they were there every night. But they were the best staff, the best hardworking group I've ever had because, I don't know ... I mean, they would work late, take a nap, get dressed at work, go from work to Studio 54, and come in and work like nothing ever happened, and I was like, "Okay, whatever's happening, I'm not questioning it"

Kerry Diamond:             Yeah, I was going to say, you probably didn't want to know what the secret was to that?

Norma Kamali:              Nah, I didn't want to know, no.

Kerry Diamond:             So speaking of Ian Schrager, you interviewed him for your podcast ... And of course Norma has a podcast ... and he called you the most creative person he knows today. And I was curious, I mean, obviously we all know you're creative as a fashion designer, but how else does that creativity that he's referring to manifest itself?

Norma Kamali:              I just think it's a mutual admiration society between us and I think that's probably what drew us together initially. So I truly am complimented by him saying that, but I don't know. I mean, thank you, that's all I can say.

Kerry Diamond:             How do you recharge your creative batteries?

Norma Kamali:              I'm like the Energizer Bunny, I think it just keeps going. I am very much into restoring, and meditation, and sleep, sleep. Sleep's so important, and if any of you have a problem with sleep, you have to work on that really, really hard because it is with the stress that we're in, and if you're in this industry, it's so important to focus on that. So I think restorative, working out every day, is really important.

Kerry Diamond:             So you really do work out every day?

Norma Kamali:              Absolutely. You can ask-

Kerry Diamond:             Marty, does she really work out every day? Okay.

Marty:                          At least once.

Kerry Diamond:             At least once? When did that habit start?

Norma Kamali:              A long time. I mean, I used to ... If there's a dance party, I'm dancing, I'm there, so I-

Kerry Diamond:             Not Studio 54 dance party?

Norma Kamali:              Not there.

Kerry Diamond:             Right, okay.

Norma Kamali:              So I always dance, and then when there were less clubs and less places to go, I just started working out, forever. And I love it, I think it's really key. At 74, I feel my body is not in pain, I'm feeling good, I don't feel any age in my body. I think if that's part of the protocol of your life, especially as you get older, you never feel unable to do anything, so working out is critical.

Kerry Diamond:             And you share a lot of your workouts on Instagram. Has everybody seen these?

Norma Kamali:              Oh my God.

Kerry Diamond:             You have to look at Norma's Instagram account. Is that because you just want to inspire other people to do it too?

Norma Kamali:              Well, I did a few because people asked me to do it, and then I thought, "Oh my God. I mean, I'm putting all my clothes up and everybody's wanting me to do more exercises," so I did. And I'm writing a book, and part of what the book is about is healthy lifestyle and aging with power, and so I'm putting my exercise routines in there, and diet, exercise, sleep techniques. So I'm going to start videotaping more of those.

Kerry Diamond:             When is the book coming out?

Norma Kamali:              We moved it passed the election because we thought that might be an interference, so we're going to do early '21, January.

Kerry Diamond:             Very exciting. Who and what inspires you today?

Norma Kamali:              I'm easily inspired, I have to say. It can come in any form. It can come from the sound of a song, or just seeing something pass by, or Instagram, or ... I just get in touch with anybody that looks like they're doing something great, I don't care if they think I'm annoying or not. It's like some people say, "No, I'm not interested." I will hunt people down if I love what they're doing, so I'm a bit of a stalker when there's inspiration.

Kerry Diamond:             You must love Instagram then?

Norma Kamali:              I do. I think it's, you create your own magazine and it's my personal little file on people I love, or things that are really exciting or interesting.

Kerry Diamond:             I want to go back a little bit, you mentioned that you had gone to FIT and you had that disastrous, terrible interview. I was curious, back then, what jobs were open to young women in fashion? What jobs were open to young men in fashion? Was it different?

Norma Kamali:              So, this is early '60s, '63, and FIT was one building, if you can imagine. All the girls, and there were a lot of them, were dressed as if they were going to a fashion show every day. And I wanted to be a painter and there were a few of us that looked like the kind of people that all of those other people would never talk to. And so, hats and gloves, and this is girdles, right? We're talking girdle time, we're talking stockings-

Kerry Diamond:             Okay, some people might not even know what a girdle is in this room.

Norma Kamali:              Do you know what a grater belt is? Do you know what a girdle is? Do you know ... You know the Madonna cone bras? That was like a real underwear set, and not comfortable, not, I still don't think it's sexy or pretty, no matter how you look at it. So there was a mentality in FIT, and it was more about a good part of the population were girls who liked clothes, and it was something they could do, because the '60s were still not a time where women worked. I mean, it just wasn't what happened.

Norma Kamali:              But the fashion industry at that time, was still not about brands, it was Norman Norell and famous designers like that who were American, and then there was European fashion, which was very much the center of the universe. And so it was until John Fairchild from Women's Wear Daily, really decided to take Saint Laurent and make that name a brand. And then, from that, American designers like Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein, and of course Halston, became the American brands. But that's in '70s, not the '60s.

Norma Kamali:              So the '60s were still not about being a brand or being a famous designer. You would work at a manufacturers, or something like that. And I didn't even really have a clear picture of it, because I really still wanted to be Michelangelina, I wanted nothing of this fashion shit that I was seeing there.

Kerry Diamond:             Sounds a little too bohemian for FIT?

Norma Kamali:              I was so out of place, I was just so out of place, I couldn't understand. I thought fashion is just rigid, horrible. But then when you rethink it and you see clothes that nobody had ever done before, nobody wore a miniskirt, nobody wore a skirt above their knee until London, nobody ever thought about the uniqueness of shapes of dresses that were happening, and everything about it was so much my personality. It was like a bohemian deciding clothing was what they were going to do. And that was so comfortable for me and I found my personality immediately.

Norma Kamali:              And of course, gone were the girdles and the garter belts and the stockings, because now it was tights and pantyhose, or bare legs and boots, and just a whole other thing, a different way to move your body. You didn't have to take your breasts and put them into cones, and it was just, you didn't have to wear a bra, none of that was important.

Kerry Diamond:             The pace of change seems so radical right now, but it sounds like it was equally as radical back then?

Norma Kamali:              It was, it was. It's a very similar time in so many ways, but because this is so much more evolved and more advanced, and I'm so happy to be here now. As much as I love the '60s, this is really an extraordinary time because we can communicate so easily with one another, with people around the world. This is just an extraordinary time.

Kerry Diamond:             Well, good transition, because you can control the message to an extent today. You talked about using Instagram like your own magazine. I want to talk about the fashion media. I mean, I've been a lifelong student of fashion media, I've been very lucky to work at fashion magazines over the years. And looking back, my opinion is that the fashion media really prioritize the stories of male designers. I don't know if that was to the detriment of female designers, but I'm curious, when you look back at the heyday of fashion media, the '70s, the '80s, were they telling women's stories?

Norma Kamali:              To be absolutely honest, I'm personally a feminist, but throughout my entire career, I was never consciously thinking that I'm a woman and mostly everybody who is powerful, has a name, is a man. I just thought I'm in the competition and that's it. I really never did. And so many of the things that I did were feminist moves, very big feminist moves, but I never felt competitive with men, and that they had the upper hand. I felt other things, but that wasn't a big problem for me, and I don't know why. I was very lucky to get recognition, maybe more than I deserved, I don't know. I got a lot of recognition. There were times I felt that other people were getting recognition for things that I did, but that's life, get over it and move on. You have another idea, just do it.

Norma Kamali:              So there's a lot of things that are unfair and fair, but I never felt that men were having a priority over my own personal vision or goals. And I suppose if I go back and dissect it, I could find things, but to me, what was more offensive were the situations like that job interview, or some guy in a negotiation that I might be having with all men, more in the business side of it, who after I win the negotiation, on the way out, pats me on the butt and says, "Good job," and you want to just turn around and strangle him. But you keep quiet, because you won, you got the thing done. So those are things that would just drive me crazy.

Norma Kamali:              But it wasn't the creative part of it that I felt it, it was more being a business woman in a man's world, that was very difficult, many times, but you know what? That was what I had to get through during that period of my career.

Kerry Diamond:             We're going to get to you as a business woman, but I have one followup question. It's the same when you look at the big fashion brands today though, for some reason they still seem to prioritize hiring male designers. You really can count on one, maybe two hands, the number of big brands that have female designers leading their houses.

Norma Kamali:              Yeah, I mean that's true, and maybe women prefer male designers. I mean, there's something I find curious about that, that there is an imbalance. But I also, I think there may be more. The population of male designers may just be larger than the population of women designers, but I don't think that's forever. I think there are so many talented women. I mean, it's a time for women now, don't forget, we understood that it was harder in all areas to get out there, but there are so many talented young women, who are doing things that no man could ever think of because it comes from a feminine spirit.

Norma Kamali:              So there will be more, and there are more now, and there will be more, and there'll be more of a balance. I think a woman understanding a woman's psyche is such an advantage. I've never tried for a demographic, or to try to reach women in a certain way, it's just I feel here and my clothes say it. And other women connect to it, and other women say, "Oh, I could never wear your clothes," and I was like, "That's okay. That's cool." So there are more women who will do that, and are doing that now, and we know, we see them, and it's so inspiring and great. It's important that people like me help support them and be mentors, so that there is more of a balance.

Kerry Diamond:             I think on the indie side certainly. I mean, Ulla Johnson showed today, you've got Maria Cornejo, Rachel Comey, on and on. It's just those bigger, more well funded houses-

Norma Kamali:              Well, I don't know that bigger is better. For me, being the most famous or the richest designer in the world was never my priority. I wanted my creative life, and I wanted ... I want to be successful, I want to have a good life, I want to have a staff that are compensated in the best way and are given privilege for the work they do, but I don't need to be the richest or most famous. And I don't think women have to have that feeling, we don't need that. We understand the joy of having an art that we love, or having a love for something.

Norma Kamali:              And there are men too that feel that way. Bigger is not always better and we're seeing that now, where all of these big companies are becoming one big company, and then what? You want smaller, you want unique, you want interesting, you want variety. You don't want to see the same clothes on everybody's collection.

Kerry Diamond:             Have you had investors over the years?

Norma Kamali:              I've had opportunities to have investors, and I have to tell you, there were times when I wasn't sure if I could pay the rent and I really could have used investors, but the voice kept coming in my mind saying, "You want a creative life. Do you think by giving your name or by having this partner you will have a creative life?" And I found other ways to collaborate and do things where I can control my company. So I still own my company, I'm happy to say, after 52 years. I appreciate that. I truly appreciate that because it's not easy.

Kerry Diamond:             We'll be right back with Norma Kamali after this quick break.

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Kerry Diamond:             Back to my conversation with fashion designer Norma Kamali.

Kerry Diamond:             Did anyone ever come to you to try to buy Norma Kamali?

Norma Kamali:              Yes. Yeah. But then I was like, "Ah, if you do that, then what am I going to do, because you're going to take my soul and run with it?" So no, I still love what I do and I'm so happy that I'm still doing it and that I didn't do that. I have friends in the industry who tell their stories of really cashing out, making a lot of money, but my heart hurts for them, that they're not really living out the creativity that comes with what we do.

Kerry Diamond:             I didn't realize the Norma Kamali OMO ... Is that how you pronounce it?

Norma Kamali:              Yeah.

Kerry Diamond:             You've probably seen that label that Norma has. I never knew what OMO stood for, and in researching you, it stands for on my own.

Norma Kamali:              Yeah, on my own, OMO. I got married at 19, so smart, not. I married a very handsome Iranian student who was also 19. And when I was bringing clothes back from London, I said we should really open a store so that I could sell these things. So I really sort of pushed him into it and we found this store for $285 a month, and he would sell the clothes and I would make them in this little room in the back. And as fate would have it, by the 10 years later, we had so little in common. He obviously was going to Studio 54 every night, with my sales girls, and whatever.

Norma Kamali:              So I thought, "I think I need to leave this," and it was very hard because nobody really knew me. I was in the back sowing away, and I had $98 to my name. And under a very difficult situation, I had to leave to save my soul. I really didn't know what I was going to do. I had no plan, I just left. I had an apartment with a mattress, no curtains, nothing, and I remember crying a lot that night and thinking, "This is not looking good."

Norma Kamali:              And then I learned that I had to tell my story. I never spoke, I was so shy and intimidated by everything. And so, I was meeting someone from a magazine actually, and I never met with anybody. I had this appointment and I didn't know how to break it with her because I had no information. So I met her and she said, "What happened to you?" And I was like, "Waa!" I told her what was happening and she got me sowing machines and then somebody else helped me, and before I knew it, people were helping me. And I needed to create a new name for my own company which was On My Own, Norma Kamali, because I couldn't use Kamali again on it, just by itself. And so, On My Own was my brand for that period on, and sort of by 2000 I had stopped using it, but it was very good to me.

Kerry Diamond:             But what a manifesto to have at the time.

Norma Kamali:              Yeah.

Kerry Diamond:             So you had $98 in your pockets, so let's talk about the evolution of you as a business woman. Did you have mentors over the years? Was it the school of hard knocks over the years?

Norma Kamali:              It's everything, right? I think the most important thing, and intuitively I did this, I'm very good at just calling people up and asking questions. I've learned and a great suggestion to anybody here who wants to know something, who's doing what you, or in a way that you like, just call them and see if they'll take your call. And you will be surprised, I mean, I get calls from people I don't know all the time and I always take the call. If it's somebody I can help because so many people helped me, it's my turn and obviously you do. So I did that a lot and that was incredibly helpful.

Norma Kamali:              I eventually got a really good lawyer and a really good accountant that were so good for me, and gave me great advice, and were extraordinary as far as being on my side, and that was super helpful, but I, in the end, had to make the decision. There were very few women in the '70s for me to call or get in touch with for support to say, "How did you do this?" I didn't know anybody. I didn't know a woman that had her own business. I truly didn't. And never mind a business, in fashion. There were women like Joan Burstein from Browns who had a business, and she would give me advice, and I would ask a million questions.

Norma Kamali:              But for the kind of thing I was doing, it was really my personal adventure. And you make a lot of mistakes, but there're many times where you're absolutely shocked that things are working. But you know nothing lasts forever, and over 52 years, it's like, so if everything's great, fasten your seatbelt, because it isn't going to last forever. So you have to get ready to understand what it's like to fall and how to pick yourself up very quickly and move forward.

Kerry Diamond:             All right. We have a few minutes left and I know all of you are so excited to be in the same room with Norma and you probably have some questions. So we'll open it up to a few questions, if anybody wants to? I have more questions I can keep asking. Anybody? All right, since you're all shy, I'm going to throw out a Fashion Week question. I was thinking it's so funny we're here, and it's New York Fashion Week and fashion shows really haven't changed that much in decades. It's still models put on clothes, they walk down a runway, they come back, and then the show is over. You are so modern, are you surprised that the show hasn't evolved that much?

Norma Kamali:              I am, I really am. But I think for every generation a fashion show is a new thing, so I understand why it exists and still is important. I remember in the early '80s, I was doing sweats and we were selling a tremendous amount of clothes and I had a really big advertising budget. I decided to use the advertising budget to make fashion films, so I would write these stories and make a film of it. And I thought, "I think this is good," because it's sort of pre-Sex and the City, kind of, everybody has a character. And so, I was doing those, and I thought, "I think this could be a direction." Well, I was the only one that went in that direction. But it was also the time when MTV started doing music videos, and I thought got to be FTV, fashion TV with fashion videos. No.

Norma Kamali:              And we have so much technology now, and we have social media, that I do think this is an area that could very well find a new way to show fashion and it is, but we like experience, so in the end, the fashion show still is an experience where like-minded people come together, get dressed up together. We like to get dressed up, so it's a place to go to get dressed up. I don't think fashion shows are going anywhere, but I do think there's room for a new format or platform for fashion.

Kerry Diamond:             Where are those little fashion movies?

Norma Kamali:              I have them, they're very funny. I've actually won awards for them.

Kerry Diamond:             You should put them on YouTube.

Norma Kamali:              We're just pulling them all together. I have so many of them. One of them is The Reading of the Will, and it's six woman who all dated or were married to this one guy. He dies and he has them all come to his house for the reading of the will. And they have dinners together, and somebody breaks into the house at night, and they're all out in their lingerie. It's very ... I don't know if you know the movie The Women from-

Kerry Diamond:             Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Norma Kamali:              It's very inspired by The Women.

Kerry Diamond:             It sounds like a full length feature.

Norma Kamali:              It's 25 minutes. And the truth is I used to get ... Barry Sonnenfeld was one of my DPs before he became famous. I would have lighting guys that would work on major films, who were in between films, so I would dig up all of these great people and do ... They're really funny and sort of primitive, but they're cute.

Kerry Diamond:             How funny. All right. We've one question, then we'll wrap it up.

Audience Member:                    I know you said that you haven't struggled so much in feeling like a woman against all the men, but I wonder whether in respect to being a female business owner, or in the fashion industry, or just as an entrepreneur in general, if you have any advice or experience about how you've dealt with people trying to get you to work for free, or work for less, or drive down pricing? How do you keep yourself up-

Norma Kamali:              Yeah.

Kerry Diamond:             You know your value.

Norma Kamali:              Yeah. That is so hard in any industry, especially when you're desperate for an opportunity. "Just let me show you what I can do," is all you're saying in your head and then they see your passion to do that and they take advantage. So I think you have to ... And unfortunately, or fortunately for me, it comes with age. So aging is good and that gives you the confidence to say, "I don't think so. You're going to need to pay me." I think you have to imitate what I just said and use that because you have to hold your ground. You have to, no matter how desperate you are to show how talented you are, and I've been there so I'm understanding. You'll just get taken advantage of, it's human nature, it's a sense of what people can get away with.

Norma Kamali:              And you have to keep one thing in your mind, you have to walk away when it's not right. You have to, whether it's a relationship, or a job, or an opportunity, you walk away. You will never be sorry for walking away. And sometimes when you walk away, they don't let you, so I just say, keep that in mind, the walk away is an option you have, because there will be a time when you can show your talent. There will be, it's going to come. Just keep the passion and it'll come.

Norma Kamali:              Good luck. I hope you find a way with that.

Kerry Diamond:             Judy's our boss. Can we take a few more questions?

Judy:                            No.

Kerry Diamond:             Okay Judy, you're the best. All right you have the mic, go ahead.

Audience Member:                    Hi. I'm curious how once you've opened up your café, got into Michael Pollan, how maybe your eating habits, or what you decide to eat has changed and evolved? And also, what is your spirit vegetable? Hi, Kerry.

Norma Kamali:              Yes. I, for a very long time, look at food as medicine, and I really believe what we eat is fuel for our wellbeing and our health, how we eat, how often we eat, how much we eat. I love colorful food, I love vegetables. I feel it is critical for everybody to understand how much bad food there is out there and how important it is to take your kitchen, clean it out, and have a refrigerator and cupboards filled with quality foods, so that you don't make mistakes in the middle of the night when you think you're hungry and you eat garbage. I am a big proponent of doing whatever you can to have beautiful healthy food. You don't crave junk food when you develop a taste for quality food.

Norma Kamali:              I love vegetables. Cauliflower is not known to be a very, like the top healthy vegetable, but I like it during this time, when I want something to crunch on when I'm nervous eating. So I make cauliflower ... You have to try this, it's so good ... olive oil. Just cut up little cauliflower bunches in a bowl, olive oil, fresh lemon, lots of it, sea salt and turmeric. Make it all orange and powdery, and then mix it up. It's so delicious and crunchy and good, and you get anti-inflammatories, you get great delicious olive oil and lemon. And it's so yummy, if you don't eat it all, you put it in the fridge, tomorrow it's even better. So for me, that's like eating crap, but not really, and it's really yummy. I promise you if you try it, you'll be, "This isn't so bad."

Kerry Diamond:             Do you have recipes in your book?

Norma Kamali:              Yes, I do.

Kerry Diamond:             Good, good. All right, we can take one more. We've got somebody back ... Oh okay, we'll take two more questions and then wrap it up.

Audience Member:                    Hi, do you have a favorite garment that you've designed, and a favorite person that you've dressed?

Norma Kamali:              It's really hard to have a favorite, it's really ... I mean, it's 52 years, right? So how do you pick one out of all of that? I think usually whatever I did last I'm still sort of hopped up and excited about. But there are things that I've done throughout my career that fill in the sustainability category, which has always been important to me. So I think my sleeping bag coat is a good example of that. So you can have a sleeping bag ... I made my sleeping bag coat out of my sleeping bag. I was camping, it was cold, and I had to pee in the woods basically. And so, I took my sleeping bag and it was so warm and it was a September night, and I thought, "I'm going home and I'm going to cut up this sleeping bag and make a coat out of it," and I did. And I didn't waste one piece of the sleeping bag, I used every part of it, number one, good.

Norma Kamali:              And the fact that you can have a sleeping bag coat for as long as you live, if you just clean it and take care of it. We never ever dry clean anything, especially the sleeping bag coat. And so, if you just wash it down and store it away in the summer, it will last you a lifetime. So I really love something that can last, and I love something that has a resurgence. Every time another company discovers puffy coats and they want to make them, and then I just have so many people saying, "We want more sleeping bag coats." So I think I'm happy about that one, but also others.

Norma Kamali:              And there isn't one particular celebrity that I can say. I've never reached out to celebrities to say, "I'll dress you for free," or, "You can have free clothes," I've never done that, and I have always had celebrities wanting me to do something for them, which is such an honor. And in my book, I'm also going to do a thank you to all of the celebrities through the years, including Elvis and everybody else, who by shopping and buying from me helps sustain my career. And not only because they were spending money, but by doing that, they were giving me exposure. And so, I feel like I owe so many of them.

Norma Kamali:              And Elvis, by the way, would buy the same dress, white dresses, gowns always, same dress for three different women, all blonde, and this would go on and it was great and I was so happy. And I wasn't even an Elvis fan at the time and I thought, "This man is helping me stay alive." So I am so grateful to ... Cher bought so many clothes from me at a period of time where I thought, "I don't know. She doesn't understand that she's keeping me afloat. I mean, this woman's like magic."

Norma Kamali:              But I love thinking of people as characters and designing for them, so that's fun. But I do love doing clothes for dance. I love it more than anything. I love designing Twyla Tharp's dances. Just all of that movement is very much what I'm connected to. Thank you, that was a good question.

Kerry Diamond:             Great question. I'm so sorry, we have to wrap it up here. I think all of us wish you were our life coach, our big sister, our all of the above. You have been such an inspiration to me and I know to everyone in this room and to the whole fashion industry, so thank you for persevering and doing everything you do. You're remarkable, Norma.

Norma Kamali:              Thank you.

Kerry Diamond:             Thank you.

Norma Kamali:              Thank you so much.

Kerry Diamond:             That's it for today's show. Thank you to Norma Kamali for sitting down with me. Our conversation was part of a New York Fashion Week series organized by IMG and sponsored by The Glenlivet.

Kerry Diamond:             Thank you to the wines of Rioja for supporting Radio Cherry Bombe, we really appreciate it. And I think I'm going to have a glass of wine right now.

Kerry Diamond:             Radio Cherry Bombe is edited and produced by Jess Zeidman. Our theme song is All Fired Up, by the band Tralala. Thanks for listening everybody and hang in there. You're the Bombe.

When Harry Met Sally Clip:        I'll have what she's having.

Maritza Abreu:              Hello, Cherry Bombe Radio. This is Maritza, and I'm the owner of Puerto Viejo Dominican Bistro, and founder of Bisquie. And who do I think is the Bombe? Me. For taking on and continuing my parent's legacy with our brick and mortar in the heart of Brooklyn, and also, for creating a Dominican brand to share our flavors with the rest of the world.