Norma Kamali (Credit unknown)
Norma Kamali was honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America with the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award for her landmark contributions to style. In her 70 years, Kamali has pioneered the sleeping-bag coat, high-heeled sneakers, the wear-anywhere look we now call athleisure, and an early integration of fashion and wellness that is just now taking hold of the mainstream. “There was a time where I would hide talking about what I was doing [for health], because people wouldn’t speak well of me if I didn’t eat meat. It would be the topic of conversation for way too long. Now I talk about it more because people are interested,” says Kamali, whose 56th Street store boasts a wellness café selling juices, plant-based beauty products, and, soon, her own wellness kit, the details of which she’s keeping under wraps.
If you don’t catch her at the café, she’ll likely be on the next block schooling women half her age in the art of Physique 57, brewing batches of turmeric-spiked raw cauliflower in her kitchen, or heading to South Jersey for an acupuncture facial. “Being a fashion designer, I [began] looking at everything through a vanity lens,” she admits. “If I do something and it makes me look good, I’m prone to want to keep doing it. Everything I started researching had to do with how to look better. I think the secret is to not want to be young but to be the best at where you are in your life. That has a lot to do with fitness and health.” Here, Kamali shares her guide to growing up, but never getting old.
Stock Your Kitchen Properly
“Whatever we eat has an impact on how we feel and how we look. Learn to love food that’s good for you. You will not only feel better but you will see a difference in how you look just by changing the food. Your body and your taste buds will get used to how great food tastes. Never ever ever have soda or sugar [in your house]—sugar is the devil. It just makes you look older. Never have cereal in the house, most have tons of sugar in them. And definitely make sure any condiments go out immediately—there are great condiments, [but] look at [the label], the ingredients will tell you immediately.
These are things I always have [at home]. Lemons to alkalize your system. You’re like a rusty car with acidity so you keep that acidity out. Use it on salads in water, it’s terrific. I have olive oil, [which] I’m convinced is one of the best all-time problem-solvers for every part of your life. Spare no expense in getting a terrific olive oil. Between olive oil and lemons, anything you put them on will taste good.
Have salmon a few times a week and fresh vegetables and fruit all the time. If you get up in the middle of the night with the munchies, have vegetables in the fridge that you can have. Let cauliflower with lemon, olive oil, and turmeric sit in the fridge and marinate. It’s delicious. Anything you can eat raw is great for you. Whenever I’m hungry and it’s not meal time, I love nuts with green juices. Blueberries and walnuts make a fantastic dessert. There are so many great foods that are healthy for you and are delicious. Start collecting a group of them and creating meals around them.”
Feel Free to Indulge—Occasionally
“Even when you go off and maybe drink too much, [it’s fine] as long as you go back to [a healthy lifestyle]. It doesn’t have to be a sentence, it can be something you love to do. That is also good for your head, not to feel like you [can’t] do something that used to be called fun, like drinking and having dessert. You can do it, just not habitually, and don’t ever let it enter your house.”
Stick to a Workout Routine
“I work out every day; in fact I think it should be something that becomes a habit for everyone. You’re using fuel, creating energy, toning your body, and creating strength. Finding the type of exercise that you like is important; experimenting with different types of programs is helpful. Then hone in on the ones that you like and create a schedule around them. Find a favorite exercise that’s near you. The closer it is to where you live and work, the more likely you will be to get there every day. I found Physique 57, it was three minutes away from [my store]. I love it. I think it’s one of the best exercises for feeling toned and fit. In eight classes your body changes.”