Norma Kamali Has Designed a Pillow and—of Course—It’s Made of Super Comfy Swimsuit Fabric

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Photo credit: markcoflaherty
Photo credit: markcoflaherty

In 1976, the actress Farrah Fawcett was photographed for a poster wearing a sizzling red one-piece swimsuit, her tousled blond waves cascading over her shoulders, her wide smile blinding. The image has since become iconic and so, too, has the designer of the suit in question, Norma Kamali, a fashion veteran who, over the course of 53 years, has become known for her innovative, prescient creations like sleeping bag coats (worn by doormen at Studio 54, no less) and high-heeled sneakers. This month, Kamali is expanding her deep familiarity with bathing suits to characteristically unexpected territory: She is launching a home line whose pieces are covered in swimwear fabrics.

The collection, dubbed NormaLife Home, debuts on June 15 with a 28-by-28-inch, multipurpose pillow that comes in four patterns—a graphic stripe, painted dots, a marble, and a painted brushstroke print—and can be used for everything from meditation to yoga. It can even, according to Kamali, stand-in for human contact.

“The thickness of it is like hugging a person if you wrap your arms around it,” she explains of her design, which comes in sustainable and recyclable packaging and, thanks to the aforementioned swim fabric, is durable, outdoor-friendly, and easy to clean with a sponge.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Norma Kamali
Photo credit: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

Other products from NormaLife Home, currently available exclusively on Kamali’s website, will roll out this summer and fall, including a boxy bag, a comforter, a smaller 17-by-17-inch pillow, a multipurpose cube, a ball chair, a carpet, and a conical lounger, all available in the same array of coverings.

This interiors endeavor isn’t a non sequitur for Kamali. In the mid-to-late ’80s, she had a furniture store in SoHo where she sold ornate items like, in her words, “etched, mirrored everything and seed pearl bedspreads.” Her new home line, however, speaks to an epiphany Kamali had when she turned 50, realized her possessions were draining her, and converted to minimalism, personally and professionally.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Norma Kamali
Photo credit: Courtesy of Norma Kamali

“I decided that I would never have any furniture or things that didn’t serve a purpose. I don’t have any tchotchkes,” says Kamali, who lives in a glass-walled, ultramodern apartment in the West Village with her partner, Marty Edelman. “These things are playful and not as permanent as fixed, heavy pieces. I can’t live like that anymore, confined by one idea.”

And there’s been an unexpected bonus to dreaming up pillows and chairs instead of bikinis and tanks: They require less meticulous fitting than a bathing suit.

“Because there’s no sizes, there’s no ‘is the leg too tight?’” notes Kamali. “Doing a swimsuit is harder than doing a wedding gown. With [home products], it fits a butt, there’s a maximum weight, and that’s it. This is play.”

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