Fashion Tribe
May 3rd, 2016


One of Edmar Villa's models walked the runway during the designer's "Fleur Connections" segment that closed "The Gallery," Honolulu Community College's annual student fashion show.

Students of Honolulu Community College's Fashion Technology program presented their annual senior fashion show, this year titled "The Gallery," at the school's Marine Education and Training Center on April 30.

The event showcased the work of junior and senior designers, with 11 graduating students presenting individual collections.

The show is also a collaborative effort involving students throughout the campus, including the art department, design center, carpentry and cosmetology students who help with everything from makeup and hair to stage design.

A model shows the opening look from Matt Batulayan's "Mask4Masc" collection.

A model in a swimsuit from Rose Saludares' "Stained Glass" collection.

A model in a swimsuit from Rose Saludares' "Stained Glass" collection.

One of the look's from Ashley Kaminaga's "Blush" collection.

The students take their bows at the show's finale. From left are Dinah Swords, Rose Saludares, Matt Batulayan, Edmar Villa, Ashley Kaminaga, Hilda Howell, Samara Keuma, Lory Wong, Liko Fukumoto and Jessica Nguyen.

From left are Matt Batulayan, Edmar Villa, Ashley Kaminaga, Hilda Howell, Samara Keuma, Lory Wong, Liko Fukumoto, Jessica Nguyen and Kimberly Kaai.

Here's a look at the senior showcases, in order of their presentations:

DINAH SWORDS: “Love Today”

With a love of country and prairie looks, bluegrass and folk grass movie and vintage Americana, Swords celebrates retro feminine looks with a collection of dresses and tops inspired by small town diners and cafes, thrift shops and book stores. Soft cream and peachy colors delivered a sense of innocence missing on big city streets, and though inspired in part by little old ladies, manage to look fresh, young and flirty.


Kaai is a fan of the carefree bohemian look which she interprets for resort and Hawaii’s warm weather by creating dresses, rompers and separates in clean cool whites. Her pieces allow for easy mixing and matching, making it a breeze to pack up and go anywhere.

ROSE SALUDARES: “Stained Glass”

Saludares entered the fashion program with the aim of creating casual wear but after taking a course in swimwear she fell in love with the fabric and fit and now focuses solely on designing for the beach life. Her designs feature high-cut legs to create the illusion of length, and details that allow transition to the street when worn like a bodysuit. The irony is, she said, “I used to go to the beach, but I don’t have time anymore. I’m too busy sewing.”

JESSICA NGUYEN: “Adrenaline”
Nguyen identifies with the athlete and the hard work and determination they bring to their sport. She wants to bring the same energy to her sportswear and athleisure apparel. She initially started out wanting to create a girly line and still brings feminine touches to her designs, such as heart cutouts on cropped tops. Pieces can also be mixed and matched with streetwear.


Social media has given everyone access to the inner lives of celebrities and CEOs, and it’s the young, stylish female CEOS who have inspired Wong’s collection. She created her line to appeal to the successful entrepreneur who knows how to be a professional in business dealings, “but knows how to have a good time too.”
Working with edgy, minimalist designs in black, she delivers a color pop of royal blue for separates that would work well with pieces women already have in their closets.
Believing that less is more in fashion, her designs have a timeless quality that will make her garments mainstays, even as the rest of fashion remains in flux.

LIKO FUKUMOTO: "The Most" by LikoLove

Fukumoto is a combination of beauty plus classic tomboy, who practices judo and took up wrestling at Moanalua High School. She originally planned to take up Auto Tech at HCC, but when her parents weren’t thrilled, she found her way into the fashion program where she embraced the yin-yang aspect of her personality to liberate women who feel confined by society’s expectations of perfection at all times.
Her multi-functional pieces start with swimsuits for an active, outdoorsy life, that can be dressed up for an evening out.
“There’s a lot of work involved in being so put together all the time,” she said. “I feel like girls need an outlet to be the tomboy once in a while because it’s cute if you’re messy sometimes. I think girls should be able to wrestle and kick butt, and look cute doing it.”

SAMARA KEUMA: “Electric Siren”

Keuma’s life outside of fashion revolves around music and attending as many festivals as she can. Taking inspiration from the Electric Daisy Carnival and Paradiso Festival, she’s created swimsuit-inspired festival apparel created to help revelers keep their cool while dancing into the wee hours.
Electric blues and a touch of sparkle and shine reflect an equal obsession with the ocean and mermaids. “I love the ocean, I love to swim, I love to be at the beach all the time.”
She’s already making plans to wear some of her garments to the next EDC at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in June.


Howell takes inspiration from the Greek goddess of the moon and the hunt to create a collection both strong and feminine, that grew out of her love of stretch knit fabrics that glide over the body, delivering a combination of fit and flow.
“I’ve been dancing since I was a child so I love movement, things that are fluid and elegant,” she said. “Some of the designs are made for dancing, with flowy circular ruffles, and mermaid silhouettes.
“When I looked at everything together, it reminded me of a fierce Greek goddess, who could be strong but still look sexy on the hunt.”


In our information society, people are no longer boxed in by old ideas and Batulayan feels we’ve entered a period in which people, armed with Internet-taught know-how, are able to try their hand at anything that piques their interest.
As an art lover, he found himself drawing parallels between today's Renaissance men and those of 14th to 17th century Europe in creating his menswear collection. He looked to the color and extravagance of the Venetian carnival to create designs for men who want to be the center of attention.
With bondage-influenced cut-outs and a bold print he designed himself, the looks were created for club-goers, but with side-slit shirts, also happen to be comfortable in the heat of the day.


In Kaminaga’s eyes, glamour shouldn’t be restricted to evening wear or red carpets, and she strives to bring more stardust to women’s every day lives at affordable prices. Not one to shy away from risk, she’s taking a chance that there are other women like herself, who want to break from the norm by opting for daytime separates and dresses in sheer and silk fabrics in the color pink. And, for those who don’t have time in the morning to think about jewelry, she’s providing that too by stringing sparkling beads and stones that work as necklaces at the front and back of dresses, or as skirt overlays.

EDMAR VILLA: “Fleur Connections”

Villa grew up in the Philippines where, even as a child, he knew he wanted to be a designer. “Pageants are a big thing so I had fantasies of making ballgowns,” he said. But a decade later, his taste more refined, out came the sparkles and in came menswear details to define his womenswear collection.
Nevertheless, some childhood memories stuck. “I remember playing in the grass near bamboo and flowers, and being so close to nature, and here, I don’t see it.”
He went online shopping at Mood, the New York dry goods store featured in “Project Runway” and found a gray-and-white floral print with spots of color that now grace separates of pants, tops and kimono-style jackets.
And you wonder why “Project Runway” designers never used fabric this beautiful?
“I bought all of it,” Villa said.

Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her fashion coverage is in print on Saturdays. Contact her via email at and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.

April 27th, 2016


These mesh purses are among the vintage and antique handbags on display in the "Essential Style: Vintage and Antique Purses" exhibition at San Francisco International Airport, courtesy of the SFO Museum.

Essential Style: Vintage and Antique Purses
On view at San Francisco International Airport through July 22, 2016

Waiting at airports can be a boring, mind-numbing experience, but at San Francisco International Airport, in-house SFO Museum exhibitions turn it into a culturally enriching one.

SFO Museum became the first cultural institution of its kind located in an international airport, in 1980. Displays are compact, varied and fun. Last time I passed through, there was an exhibition of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett's monster-themed guitars. There are 20 exhibitions throughout the airport at this time, but I happened to be passing through the international terminal en route to Dubai, and chanced on the "Essential Style: Vintage and Antique Purses" exhibition. I love purses so of course I was thrilled. Many of the pieces are credited to the Antique Purse Collectors Society.

According to exhibition materials, purses date to the medieval period, but I'm pretty sure they have been around as long as men and women had to carry talismans and other personal items. They didn't remain utilitarian objects long as humans have always wanted to put their personal stamp on items. Purses quickly evolved into a sophisticated decorative art and fashion accessory, and bags have always showed the creativity and skills of their makers, from metal and leatherwork to weaving, embroidery, and knitting. That's why I like them so much. They are a form of portable, everyday art.

Purses continue to fascinate and tempt us. I just read that a trio of Hermès Birkins topped $100,000 each in an April 18 and 19, $2.5+ million Heritage Spring Luxury auction in New York. A rare limited edition Matte So Black Nilo Crocodile Birkin topped the trio with a final price of $125,000, while an Extraordinary Collection Matte Black Porosus Crocodile Birkin Bag with 18k White Gold Hardware went for $118,750, and a Matte White Himalayan Nilo Crocodile Birkin Bag finished at $100,000.

Metal mesh purses were popular in the 1920s, and the Mandalian Manufacturing Co., created beautiful painted designs. In the early days of eBay, I searched for these and feel lucky to own purses identical to the two on the right. I just don't get to use them because they don't hold much. Even a driver's license is too long and wide to fit through the bottom.

Historically, men and women wore purses attached to their belts or fabric bands that hung from the waist. After pockets were introduced to male clothing at the end of the 16th century, men's use of bags declined. But women's styles became increasingly sophisticated. A number of workshops in 18th century France began producing exquisite beaded purses employing up to 1,000 beads per square inch.

The exhibition opened on Jan. 22 and is on view in the International Terminal, Departures Level 3 through July 22, 2016. View more at:

I was also a collector of Lucite purses of the 1940s until I learned the hard way that some of caramel-colored acetate ones are now leaching chemicals. I worked so hard to attain a beehive bag and another made of this material, only to see them collapse, which is why the collectors were getting rid of them.

To showcase their needlework skills, 19th century women often crafted their own beaded and embroidered bags. This is one homemade example.

A few fun and highly impractical doggie-themed purses.

Long before raves, women had the dilemma of how to carry lipsticks and cigarettes. These dance purses from 1920s and '30s France comprise celluloid and silk cord. The lightweight purses were made to dangle from the wrist.

Because of the time and effort to string beads that when knitted, would create intricate designs, knitted, beaded scenic bags commanded a high price in the early 20th century.

More beaded designs.

April 23rd, 2016


Oscar de la Renta's 2000-01 Spanish-influenced designs were the focal point of one of the tableau in a retrospective of his work at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The exhibition continues through May 30.

"Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective" on view at the de Young Museum of Fine Arts in San Fransisco, celebrates the work of the designer who was born in the Dominican Republic, trained in Spain, and made his career in the United States, until his death on Oct. 20, 2014, at the age of 82.

The world premiere exhibition, curated by André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, includes 120 ensembles, curated from the best museums in the United States, and his friends, family and clients.

The designer was born Oscar Arístides Renta Fiallo in the Dominican Republic and trained with Spanish designers Cristóbal Balenciaga and Lanvin designer Antonio del Castillo.

After moving to the United States to create ready-to-wear fashion in the early 1960s, he made his name as by dressing First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In addition to designing for his own eponymous brand, he designed the haute couture collection for Balmain between 1993 and 2002.

The exhibition covers five decades of de la Renta fashion, but instead of being organized chronologically, it is organized by themes, showing how Spanish influences in his life were consistently reflected in his work. Other galleries reflect a fascination with Asia, a love of gardens, and his popularity with New York society, celebrities and heads of state over decades. He dressed everyone from Audrey Hepburn and Liza Minnelli to Rihanna and Taylor Swift, and the show closes with some of his red carpet creations.

Beyond fashion, a video gallery screens mini docs about the designer, including his desire to give back to his home country, by opening schools and orphanages to help disadvantaged children.
Tickets for the Oscar de la Renta exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco start at $30 per person, including general admission. Discounts available for seniors, students and youth. Free for ages 5 and younger. Premium tickets are also available. The museum is in Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, through May 30.

Some of my favorite pieces in the Spanish section were those the designer created for Balmain. This summer dance dress and bolero were worn by De la Renta's wife Annette. It comprises silk, jet beads, passementerie and raffia.


This spring 2005 flounced lace evening dress was designed especially for Annette and was the designer's favorite, comprising black tulle and black silk taffeta applique.

De la Renta enjoyed gardening and that was the theme of a Vogue photo shoot by Peter Lindbergh, published in October 1997. These mannequins in floral silk Balmain gowns were arranged to recreate one of the images.

Acknowledging the rise of the Asian model that coincided with China's and Korea's growing economic power, Vogue reimagined a 1948 Cecil Beaton photograph, with eight Asian models wearing Oscar de la Renta Spring 2011 ballgowns. The new photo was shot by Steven Meisel. This detail of the photo is displayed on a video screen, with mannequins in the dresses posed in similar fashion.

Detail of jeweled tassels gracing a jacket and skirt ensemble from one of de la Renta's Asia-inspired collections.

This 1998-99 Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening dress is of green silk tafetta with beads, sequins and metallic thread embroidery. It was juxtaposed with Russian artist Konstantin Makovsky's 1884 painting, "Preparing for the Wedding."

More Spanish ruffles.

April 21st, 2016


I had to dig into my closets and drawers to come up with a handful of garments appropriate for travel to Dubai, which means covering shoulders and hemlines below the knees. This is one of the few dresses I have that isn't a shoulder-baring tank style.

Pretty much no one in Hawaii would use the words "too sexy" to describe me. I don't dress provocatively and don't strut around as if I think I'm God's gift to men. If I do bare arms almost every day, it's because our Western standards make it OK in a hot, beachy city, to walk the streets in tank tops. That's not sexy, that's normal.

Dressing for Dubai, where I'm traveling, is another matter. I hear it's a cosmopolitan city where people forgive Westerners their trespasses and tourists wear anything they want. But I think it's wise to respect one's hosts when traveling abroad and in Dubai, an Arab city, that means covering up as much skin as possible, from shoulders downward.

Problem was, I had to dig through my closets and drawers to find shirts and dresses with sleeves, that weren't too low cut, that didn't have cut-outs, and dresses and skirts that fell below my knees. And, came up pretty much empty-handed.

So, I went shopping. And, couldn't find anything.

It's because most Western dress that I would want to wear, is provocative in some way. Trends often reflect the shifting focus on different erogenous zones, selecting what is to be concealed and revealed to maximize the beauty of the female form.

Hydrating masks from TheFaceShop will be my skin's best friends in the desert. Alas, I forgot my sunscreen at home!

So, if I found a top with a high neckline, I'd turn it around and find a low-cut back. A lot of sleeves today have cut-outs to show more skin. Many tops are so long that shorter girls like me are wearing them as dresses that are about an inch or two away from impropriety.

All I found were a few cast-off long skirts—no doubt discarded for being unsexy—from Goodwill. I dug some more at home and cobbled together five days worth of garments that might pass muster when worn with scarves, and I also figured I could wear leggings under some tunic-style dresses.

There was one shirtdress I dug out of a suitcase, and I wondered why I never wore it. Was it too tight?

Nope. I tried it on and it fit in all the right places, but, it was too long by about four inches and I never got around to hemming it, so the length made it perfect for Dubai.

Only problem was, to my eye and sense of proportion, it was too long, so it stayed at home.

There's appropriateness in terms of cultural mores, and appropriateness by fashion's rules, and this time, fashion won. I'll see how it all works out.

April 20th, 2016


Furla's Valentina Camouflage handbag is among the brand's recently launched Fall/Winter 2016 designs.

Furla hosted an exclusive preview of its Fall-Winter 2016 handbag collection April 21 at its Royal Hawaiian Center store. In town for the special event was the company's CEO Scott Link, to share some of the new design directions.

The new Furla bags are influenced by music, from the rebellion of from rock to fun of pop, reflected through laser cuts, kaleidoscopic patterns, golden studs, and fringe, starting with leathers smooth, supple and soft to the touch.

Bags such as the Furla Valentina and Furla Club also make a statement about our times, where constant exposure to stimuli and other cultures are prompting artists to create new aesthetic harmonies.

Furla's Club Bag.

Furla's Metropolitan Bolero.