New York Fashion Week 2012: Norma Kamali & Jack Feldstein

Australian filmmaker inspires New York fashion icon Norma Kamali


“The minute I met Jack, I knew we would be friends forever.”

Fashion icon Norma Kamali walks alongside filmmaker Jack Feldstein, both dwarfed by 8-foot Glamazons at the launch of her KamaliKulture collection for New York Fashion Week 2012.

Why is that? I ask. “Because I’m small, and the right size to be a friend!” exclaims Jack, and Norma breaks into laughter.

In an increasingly common tale in the digital age, Norma discovered Jack’s neon animation films on YouTube in 2010. After a “first date” to see a 3D documentary, the techno-savvy designer, renown for being ahead of the curve, took on the challenge of making a 3D fashion film for her spring line last September, despite neither of them having worked with the format before.

“We knew fashion would look great in 3D because all their clothes really popped out of the film,” explains Jack.

This season they created two 3D films, one launching KamaliKulture’s timeless range under $100, and one launching Norma’s premium OMO collection.

“I think 3D is now, it’s not even the future anymore. When you’re shopping online, which is really where the future is also, you want to see the details and you want to see it ‘bigger than life’.”

Norma says that filming clothing has affected her design process. She’s aware the way clothes move, the texture on garments and the way patterns come to life are different in 3D.

Jack strikes up a conversation with Darla Baker, one of Kamali’s models, enamoured by her combined sense of humour and good looks. She’s hiding behind heavy-set brown-rimmed glasses and I ask her to pose beside her 8-foot alter-ego. Her image is also projected at both ends of the studio – models dancing playfully in white limbo.

Norma views typical runway shows as stylised and abstract and wanted to break away. Her intention was to create an atmosphere in the film that would not make women feel alienated by the fashion world.

Reflecting on his collaboration with Norma, Jack is particularly struck by her unerring eye for great beauty in every call she makes. “She has a great trust of her self and the people she picks – the models, cinematographers, everybody – to do what they do.

“I’ve learnt the most important thing is to trust your eye and your ability as an artist. If you can do that you will produce something good.”

Norma blushes at her friend’s praise. “Jack is totally inspirational for me in ways he doesn’t even know. There’s something about the way he sees life. It’s more his persona – that there’s always a possibility to do anything.”

She pauses, and then with a smile, “And so I have to congratulate myself for my good instincts for looking him up the minute I saw his film.”

And what’s next for Norma and Jack? “We have some secrets up our sleeves, so we’ll keep you posted,” says Norma, coyly.

“It’s very exciting,” says Jack. “As always, Norma is a little ahead of the zeitgeist. She sees an opportunity and then goes for it. That’s such a joyous thing to be around.”

The KamaliKulture fashion film is viewable on YouTube.

Text, photographs and video by David Joshua Ford.