Norma Kamali Says Good-Bye to Walmart

October 13, 2010 by Lila Delilah

Last week, Norma Kamali announced that she would not be extending her deal to design collections for Walmart. Instead, she will be concentrating on health and wellness. Kamali will be producing a series of videos for Hulu where she will be discussing health, wellness and longevity with a series of experts.

Some of the videos are already online, but our favorite interview video is with choreographer Twila Tharp . In her clip, she discusses staying motivated and overcoming failure. Her frankness and energy are completely contagious. As Twila says, “Get going, or quit.”

Before we submerge this post in issues of higher meaning and living longer, we thought we should pay tribute to Norma’s final Walmart collection. Before proceeding to checkout, we consulted New York Times style reporter and resident Walmart expert, Stephanie Rosenbloom, to pick the best items from the Walmart Kamali collection. When it comes to fashion and value, Stephanie’s word is akin to one of a higher order.

Here are Stephanie’s top picks based on style, price and quality:

The Motorcycle Jacket — It’s not leather or even pleather, but in black, this short cotton jacket with multiple zippers and an asymmetrical closure is an edgier, tougher-looking alternative to a jean jacket or blazer. It’s lightweight yet staves off a chill and looks chic open or closed. I pair mine with tall boots and jeans. And at $24, I still have money to put inside those zippered pockets.

The Batwing Cardigan Amid a sea of dainty, ho-hum cardigans, this draped, oversize number is a lot of drama for little money. That’s mainly because of the long, tight sleeves that encase your forearms before gently ballooning out at the elbows. The cardigan is warm enough to stave off a chill and long enough to cover your rear (a bonus given that leggings are in vogue). It feels like a sweatshirt and washes like one too: just toss it in the machine. Consider your perfect airplane sweater found. (Limited sizes available for $15 in black, red, milk, and grey heather. The cocoa version is $18.)

The Wrap Dress — It’s hard to go wrong with a wrap dress as any Diane von Furstenberg fan knows. At one point, Ms. Kamali made a version for Walmart with short sleeves and a sweetheart neckline that transitioned easily from cubicle (under a blazer) to cocktail party. It looked far more expensive than its Wal-Mart price tag, and washed and traveled with nary a wrinkle. Wal-Mart is now selling a long-sleeve Norma Kamali “wrap dress,” though it doesn’t have an adjustable tie closure so there’s no tweaking it to be more snug or loose. The long-sleeve version is flattering and affordable at $20.


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