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I Miss You, Norma Kamali

Three lifetimes ago in New York City (around 1976), my best friend and roommate and I maintained ownership of a fabulous dress. Olive green with a cream-colored pattern (a loose but lovely paisley) made of tightly woven, heavy cotton (like upholstery fabric), a simple rounded neckline with two buttons, a dramatic drop waist that hugged the hips tightly, and a knee-length skirt. The dress was simply to die for—at least that’s what we thought. And, since both of us spotted it at the same time, we agreed to share it. Easily done, since our clothes hung in the same closet.

We spent our 20s and half of our 30s in New York City, sharing the dress while we worked, dated, hoped and dreamed of classy careers, endless romance, and exciting friendships. We honed our passions for theater, museums, publishing, shopping, and all that life in NYC had to offer (that we could afford!)

Having just recently rediscovered photo albums and the archives of a dear friend who passed long ago, my wardrobe memories came flooding back. My mother’s oversized soft, brown mouton coat with padded shoulders and a silky lining that I wore to death. A black dress with the colorful embroidered flowers that Mom wore when she was younger and stunningly beautiful. The pink Belle France dress I wore to meet my fiancé’s family. The lavender and white Adrienne Vittadini maid of honor outfit for my best friend’s wedding. My lacy, ivory, tea-length, long-sleeved, high-necked wedding dress adorned with just a hint of sequins. The simple pink gown with gold-trimmed hem I wore to the most amazing Beverly Hills Hotel wrap party. I remember every stitch, color, and fabric as if they were hanging in my closet today. And I mourn the passing of each piece…for these clothes represented great successes, occasions, and losses in my life. Falling in love, getting married, trying to get pregnant, miscarrying, adopting a baby boy, moving across the country, starting an exciting new job, celebrating holidays, attending funerals, etc. These outfits held memories of unexpected opportunities, good and bad relationships, openings and closings, innocence, first loves, unbridled happiness, and devastating losses.

Sometimes my friend and I talk about our early days in NYC. Forty years later, still sharing our stories filled with husbands, children, siblings, parents, extended family, and pets, we live 3,000 miles away from each other. We stay connected via phone, Skype, texts, email, Facebook, and yearly visits. We still shop together whenever possible. And we always reminisce a lot. Sometimes we even reminisce about the Norma Kamali dress—even though neither of us remembers what happened to it. No matter…it was truly fabulous and continues to serve as a lovely reminder of those happy and challenging years together…years that have been woven into the very fabric of our lives.