Born Norman Levinson. After studies at the Pratt Insitute he worked in the infant movie industry in New York, and also designed for Broadway and nightclub shows. He was a designer for Hattie Carnegie from 1928 to 1941. He opened his own huse shortly thereafter, originally a partnership with Anthony Traina. Traina departed in1960. He received the first Coty American Fashion Critics Award in 1943, and would win four more and enter their Hall of Fame in 1956. He had a long association as teacher and member of the board with Parsons School of Design. Gustave Tassell took over the company at Norell's death, and the company closed in 1977.