Norma Kamali - Sizzlin' Suits
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Shortly after Norma Kamali appeared on the scene in the early 1980's, with her innovative, adorable and chic sweat suit material ready-to-wear clothing, she proceeded to re-revolutionize the design world's and the public's conception of what a bathing suit can be. 

Norma incorporated old fashioned lingerie construction into her swimsuits: bra strap rings, under wiring, and other style details reminiscent, to me, of the lingerie worn by the Vargas Girls (Vargas created stunning fashion illustrations for Esquire magazine).  At the same time, Norma created  bold, simple yet graphic, one piece and two piece bathing suits, and she afforded the public the luxury of being able to buy tops and bottoms separately, so that you could get things that fit you properly. You could mix and match brilliant colors, and you could mix and match different styles of tops and bottoms.  Kamali suits became enormously popular, and appeared on print magazine covers and in articles constantly.

As all things in fashion and ever-cycling trends, Norma once again is at the forefront of the bathing suit esthetic.  This season's Swimwear 2000 collection of what I like to call Mild Bondage suits (including the parachute swimsuits with bungee cords, which evoke rope) is once again graphic, innovative, bold and daring.

As a tribute to Norma Kamali, I decided to not follow the herd, and photograph models and swimsuits on sunny beaches, or in front of studio seamless paper.  I asked photographer Carlos Batts, whom Fashion Finds featured last month, to help me realize a fashion spread that would stand out from the crowd.  Shot exclusively for Fashion Finds in the part of Los Angeles called the San Fernando Valley, a residential area north of the Hollywood Hills, the "Valley" is also home to many of the great film studios (Disney, Universal, Warner Bros., and more). Carlos drew his inspiration from Barbie Dolls, Daryl Hannah's 1980's look, a retro-Playboy, Dorothy Stratton/Playmate look, and a Boogie Nights groove.

To see the full line of Norma Kamali swimwear, click here.

Norma Kamali's flagship store:
11 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019
Telephone (212) 957-9797

All photographs
Copyright C. Batts FLY 2000.

To contact Carlos Batts: (323) 465-6435,
or email:
Carlos' web site:

Ahead, 8 more great photographs of Kamali swimwear