Kamali Swimwear: Ab(norma)lly Chic Recollections


I’ve always had a certain sentimental connection to Norma Kamali because my mom, a model in Boston during the 80s, worked with the designer on several occasions. After one runway show she was able to bring home a dramatic ensemble that became the cornerstone of my childhood dress-up collection and my touchstone for womanhood. 

The outfit was quintessential Kamali: a simple white jersey maxi skirt with a hint of flare about the knees and a matching off-the-shoulder, blousey top that cinched in at the waist. The top layered over the skirt to create the illusion of one piece. On the floor of my mother’s closet it looked like an artless pile of fabric, yet on a body the weighty jersey was transformed, draping from womanly curves to elegant effect. Through the lens of my girlish eyes, it was magical.
By the time I was old enough to explore the inner mysteries of my mothers closet,  I had become infatuated with the outfit. I found an excuse to incorporate it into every dress-up session, whether I was playing Cinderella or grocery store checkout clerk. Rolling the waistband of the skirt several times over as to avoid tripping on the hem, I would sashay around the house, the backyard and even the elementary school–I convinced my teacher to let me wear the Kamali ensemble as my costume in the second grade’s production of The Twelve Dancing Princesses.
Raised on classic movies in which women were represented by spirited sirens–like Sophia Loren, who stormed through Italy besotting men in flirtatious waspwaisted, off-the-shoulder dresses–I thought that how I felt in the Norma Kamali outfit was what it was like to be a grown up woman: glamorous, powerful, sensual and beguiling.
I’m grown up now, the outfit long gone, and I realize that being a woman isn’t all about houseboats and handsome widowers (although Cary Grant still makes me swoon). But, I still try to infuse adulthood with the moments of silver screen-worthy glamour. Though her empire has waxed and waned since my mother’s modeling days, Norma Kamali’s designs are still the best at facilitating these moments. Case in Point: I felt like a pin up girl in this Kamali Bill Bikini top and high-rise bottom.
Below are some of the pictures my talented hubby took of me in it last week in Mexico during our second honeymoon. Note: the first picture above is modeled off of this classic image of Grace Kelly at the beach.

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase. I should mention, however, that I didn’t pay full price. I was lucky enough to nab the suit on sale from Barneys Warehouse for a fraction of the initial cost. It’s now sold out there, but you can still find the Bill Bikini in an array of colors online.

  • Pros: This bikini oozes with retro glam and is sexy without being too body-baring. Plus, it’s comfortable to boot.
  • Cons: the top lacks substantial support and the briefs could use more lining.
Next on my Kamali must-have list is the Bill plunging halter one-piece!

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