Archive for October, 2012

Closet Swap marks six years of many happy exchanges

October 29th, 2012

closet paperNadine Kam photos
Contestants in a zany reuse fashion show line up for photos during Fashionista's Market's 6th annual Closet Swap. I give them a lot of credit for theatrically parading across the stage!

Fashionista's Market 6th annual Closet Swap took place Oct. 21 at the Japanese Cultural Center Manoa Grand Ballroom, starting with the perfect breakfast of scrambled eggs, Portuguese sausage, rice, fresh fruit and champagne from Barefoot Bubbly, fun and games, a reuse fashion show, and finally, the mad dash for clothing donated by participants.

It was all for a good cause as funds raised will benefit the Leeward Domestic Abuse Shelter, and Amanda Stevens, from Goodwill Industries of Hawai'i was waiting in the wings to whisk anything that wasn't picked up by guests away to Goodwill, to raise funds for its vocational and community programs.

Before or after sitting down to breakfast, women could also shop for handcrafted accessories from ccdoodle's Christy Chung, as well as check out make-and-take stations manned by Cassandra Rull and Holly Boulay, who were showing guests how to transform unwanted threads into more desirable clothing and accessories.

By now, Closet Swap frequenters know a little of what to expect in the recycled fashion show, which comprises one item from the swap plus a whole lot of newspaper and tape, so having mastered the art of poufs and pleats, costumes have a lot more details to them. The only thing the women don't know is the theme, and this year it was Disney.

Apparently, everybody loves a beautiful princess. We saw a lot more of those than wicked queens. There were also Little Mermaids and Tinkerbells, and on the seamier side, a drunken pirate of the Caribbean and not only drunk but pregnant Tinkerbell (Kelley Porter), who managed to win the competition, along with a cute 5-year-old Minnie Mouse (Ayla Prather).

For the team effort involved in getting them papered up, their tables won 5 minutes early entry to the swap, a fun way to trade your trash for others' treasures.

I was able to grab a few chunky sweaters no one in Hawaii could possibly want, but that would come in handy during my trip to the chilly East Coast. Unfortunately, my flight Sunday was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, but I will still try to get out later in the week. In the meantime, I have a half dozen blog posts to catch up on, so I will try to get them done so I don't have to catch up in airports.

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winnersAnd the winners were Ayla Prather, 5, as Minnie Mouse, and Kelley Porter as a drunk, pregnant Tinkerbell. For the team's effort in dressing them, their tables were granted 5 minutes early access to the swap racks and tables.

closet minnieIn quite the coincidence, was able to find this Minnie Mouse wallet during the swap.

closet3Fashionista's Market's Alyssa Fung, right, staged the event with lots of help from Anita Clemente and Aly Case.

closetccccdoodle's Christy Chung showed her handmade creations.

closet headbandHolly Boulay showed how to stitch up bow ties that could be worn any number of ways. I sewed a blue plaid tie with fabric from a scrap heap on the side.

closet wingsPutting wings on another Tinkerbell.

closet mermaidPutting the finishing touches on the Little Mermaid.

mermaid2This Little Mermaid costume picked up dozens of scales before it was completed. You can check it out in the video at top of page.

closet swap2After the swap, women returned to their tables to try on and trade some more. There were a lot of garments flying through the air as they tossed them to friends who might make better use of their finds.

closettiffAmong the swappers were Tiffany Tanaka, left, and Olena Heu.

'Runway' All-Stars begins with Higa just missing top spot

October 25th, 2012

ivyroomLifetime photos
Ivy Higa, first designer at left, in the workroom with fellow designers and mentor Joanna Coles.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 1: "Redemption on the Runway" recap

It's good to see Ivy Higa return to "Project Runway" as one of its All Stars, during Season 2 of the spinoff of the original series, for a shot at redemption.

To this day, when people ask about her, they always say they didn't like her behavior on Season 8 and ask, "Is she really like that?"

I always say don't believe everything you see, because producers can be manipulative, the other designers could goad you, and everyone has bad days when they feel frustrated and lash out. What you see is never what the whole person is about. Just think, would you ever want to be filmed 24/7 without control over edits? Nobody's perfect.

She made enough of an impression the first time around so that mentor Joanna Coles, formerly of Marie Claire and now with Cosmopolitan, before critiquing her work, told Ivy, "I was afraid to meet you."

Ivy got emotional as she explained that she was in a bad place during her original Season 8 appearance, saying she had been feeling desperate after having sunk her savings into her business and ending up without having enough money for food. This time, she said she arrived with a better mindset, bent on focusing on the work rather than what the other designers were doing.

ivyIvy really showed her impeccable tailoring skills with this design. I still can't believe she wasn't a fashion design major, but a ceramics major at the University of Hawaii. Some of the judges didn't understand shorts dressing and wanted to see the jacket with long pants, but the leather short is what makes it cooler and younger. The judge who understood this was her Season 8 competitor and "All-Stars" Season 1 winner Mondo Guerra.

When the designers met up, they had one word for one another, "amazing." And it turned out people were most afraid of what one termed the "villain" from Season 1, Wendy Pepper, who unlike Ivy showed no signs of wanting to rehabilitate her image, saying that she didn't come to make friends and later stating she'd come to "mow everybody down."

Of course the first challenge was the one the designers always dread most, the group challenge. They split into two teams and were required to pick a word to build their mini collection around. Ivy's team picked the word "confident," while the other team picked "bold." The last person to be chosen for a team was Wendy Pepper.

During the competition, while they sized up each other's work, Anthony Ryan said that it's the quiet ones too that he watches out for, and I agreed when he singled out Emilio Sosa and Uli Herzner as competition. Meanwhile, I think we can be saying goodbye to Suede soon.

When the designs appeared on the runway, I loved Ivy's ensemble of a white jacket with black
lace insets at waist and elbows, and leather shorts. Anthony Ryan ended up winning the
competition, but I would have cast my vote for Ivy, who came in second.

As for the losing team, I don't think Andre Gonzalo should have been at the bottom. The judges said they didn't understand his look. Only Rachel Roy got it, but said there was a little too much going on and questioned how a person might get in and out of it. They were correct and sending Peach home for her sloppy, style-less creation.
Join Team Ivy at, and rate the runway. Then watch new episodes every Thursday.

uliI think Uli will also be one of the designers to watch this season.

First pics: Target + Neiman Marcus holiday collection

October 18th, 2012

tncookieNeiman Marcus / Target photos
Fashion-oriented cookie cutters from Band of Outsiders, $29.99 from the Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection due to arrive Dec. 1.

You would be hard-pressed to find many holiday options going for less than $100 at Neiman Marcus, but with the Target + Neiman Marcus Holiday Collection set to arrive in both stores, and at and on Dec. 1, you'll find a diverse mix of gift items and dressing options, at affordable prices.

Photos released yesterday showed a range of items starting at $7.99, and going up to $499.99 for an Alice + Olivia floral-pattern bicycle, with a bulk of the items priced at $60 or less. Strangely enough, considering that Target Hawaii has been known for charging more than suggested price for its collaboration collections, it may be cheaper to shop Neiman!

Target and Neiman Marcus partnered with 24 of America's top designers—all members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America—for the limited-edition holiday collection spanning fashion and accessories for women, men and kids, home goods, stationery, sporting goods and pet accessories.

I call dibs on the Tory Burch lunchbox. Start making your list!

Here are the designers being featured: Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Band of Outsiders, Brian Atwood, Carolina Herrera, Derek Lam, Diane von Furstenberg, Eddie Borgo, Jason Wu, Judith Leiber, Lela Rose, Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Philip Crangi, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rag & Bone, Robert Rodriguez, Rodarte, Skaist-Taylor, Thom Browne, Tory Burch and Tracy Reese.

tnbikeAlice+Olivia bicycle, $499.99.

tntoryTory Burch lunch box ($19.99) and beverage container ($24.99).

tnoscarOscar de la Renta pet collar and leash, $39.99.

tndvfYoga mat by Diane von Furstenberg, $49.99.

tnatwoodSunglasses by Brian Atwood, $39.99.

tnragRag & Bone flask ($29.99) and set of four shot glasses ($19.99).

tnherreraCarolina Herrera set of three travel pouches, $39.99.

tnskaistSkaist-Taylor kid's hat, $39.99.

Donna Wong HJA's Designer of the Year

October 18th, 2012

jtropicalHawaii Jewelers Association photos
Donna Wong's winning "Tropical Paradise" design.

Donna Wong was named Designer of the Year during the 2012 Hawaii Jewelers Association Design Competition, with winners announced Saturday during a dinner event at Roy's Restaurant.

Wong won for her pendant design, “Tropical Paradise,” with a centerpiece of red coral encircled with diamonds, and an 18K tri-color gold landscape featuring Diamond Head, against the red backdrop, on the reverse. A turning mechanism allows either side to be displayed.

The piece also took first place in the Hawaii-themed jewelry category.

Wong was also a People’s Choice winner, awarded by her peers, and Public Choice winner, in the “jewelry over $3,500” category, for another black pearl pendant, “Hidden Beauty.”

There were 45 entries in three categories in the annual competition, which made it tough to judge. Here’s the list of winners. Congratulations all!

Jewelry under $3,500

jpaddlerFirst place: “Colorful Paddler” by Tom Wheeler, Opal Fields; $580. The paddle design incorporates an Ethiopian opal and brilliant diamond.
Second place: “Spirit of a Wave” by Keoni Durant, Kauai Carver; $2,250. This stylized 18K gold and Tahitian black pearl fish hook was inspired by the fluid form of ocean waves.
Third place: “Linked Together” wedding bands by Brian Thomsen; $2,100. A 14K yellow-and-white gold flexible bicycle chain link wedding ring expresses the strength and flexibility needed for a relationship to thrive.
People’s choice: “Rainbow Waterfall” by Michael Ly, The Wedding Ring Shop. A 14K yellow-and-white gold pendant represents the fluid merging of a rainbow and waterfall. It's set with enhanced colored diamond.
Public choice: “Rainbow Waterfall”

undernewSecond, third and people's and public choice winners.


Jewelry under $3,500

First place: “Radiant Blue” by Dana Romsdal, Goldsmiths Kauai; $3,880. An 18K yellow gold pendant with a treatment-free blue Ceylon sapphire and channel set diamonds.
Second place: “Emergent” by Denny Wong, Denny Wong Designs; $29,000. An A 18K tutone gold slide pendant features a Michael Dyber-carved statement aquamarine.
Third place: “Insight Into My Heart” by Jane Chen, Opal Fields; $15,000. An intense pink—the color of passion—HPHT diamond is the centerpiece of this ring, with yellow, white and pink gold elements.
People’s choice: “Hidden Beauty” by Donna Wong, Keoni Collection. The name of this piece refers to the pendant's turning mechanism, that allows either the front or back of the 18K white gold-diamond pendant to be displayed interchangeably. An intricate pattern complements the 16.8mm Tahitian black pearl.
Public choice: “Hidden Beauty”

overSecond, third and people's and public choice winners.


jhiSecond, third and people's and public choice winners.

Hawaiian theme jewelry
First place: “Tropical Paradise,” by Donna Wong; $11,000.
Second place: “Rare Honu” by James Escibido, Royal Pacific Jewels: $2,990. A white gold sea turtle pendant features rare and fiery brilliant red opal inlay.
Third place: “Diamond Head Sunrise” by Tom Wheeler, Opal Fields; $33,000. The sunrise over Diamond Head was the inspiration for this yellow gold slide pendant featuring rare Boulder Black opal.
People’s choice: “Pu‘ili Na Plumeria Ka i Ke Kai (Heavenly Plumeria Embracing the Ocean” by Michael Ly, The Wedding Ring Shop. A blue topaz dangles from a lei of deeply sculpted 14K gold plumeria, accented with marquise diamonds.
Public choice: “Lei Aloha” by Laura Mellow, Mellow Antiques. A flower lei designed diamond engagement ring will last longer than its inspiration.

Miss Vamp 2012 bares her fangs

October 16th, 2012

vtabwinNadine Kam photos
Miss Vamp 2012, Tabatha "Tab" Sabre Brown, took her place on the winner's divan Oct. 12 at Hawaii Theatre, where she was crowned by Miss Vamp 2011, Tara Tynanes.

From the white of POW WOW Hawaii's "Blank Canvas" event, I visited the opposite end of the spectrum with a journey to the dark side and the Miss Vamp Hawaii pageant Oct. 12.

Prior to the event, I was at the Honolulu Firefighters Foundation's 3rd annual Signature Chefs Food Festival, so some there wondered why I was dressed for early Halloween in Rodarte's ribcage sequin dress, but I was happy to have occasion to wear it.

Fifteen women vied for the Miss Vamp title, which put them through the rigors of a more mainstream beauty pageant's talent and Q&A sessions ... but not quite when most of the contestants sported fangs and other accoutrements of the undead. And the usual swimsuit competition is replaced by sexy lingerie in a "Moonbathing" segment.

Judging the event staged by Camera Obscura, DJ Nocturna and Lana Saldania, were filmmaker and casting director Brent Anbe, theater director and teacher Taurie Kinoshita, and filmmaker Aaron Yamasato, who had a tough task.

Tabatha "Tab" Sabre Brown made quite an impression on the audience with a seductive vampire act (an excerpt is included in the video), and was named Miss Vamp 2012 as well as Miss Photogenic. First runner-up was "Ecstacy" Ashley Balmores, and Ai Saito was named Miss Congeniality.

Just as at a more typical beauty pageant, disappointment among non-winners was palpable. But, unlike a Miss America contestant, with a competitive shelf life of about six years, these creatures of the night have many lives ahead of them.

The timing of the competition means they all have time to recover in time to emerge on All Hallow's Eve. It's no big secret that downtown Honolulu happens to be a fertile feeding ground and the women said they find easy victims among those stumbling home from the bars.

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vwinMiss Vamp and her stage victims Eli Schnittger and Arianna Tyler.

vtheatreHawaii Theatre is the perfect setting for a vampire pageant.

vampThe show's emcees and producers DJ Nocturna and Lana Saldania, with Janos Molnar, Count Dracula Hawaii 2011.

vaiMiss Congeniality winner Ai Saito, with Adam Cronk and Lisa Cummins.

vxFirst runner-up Ashley "Ecstacy" Balmores, center, with her family, from left Augusto, Esperanza,Kerrie, Ava and Annika Balmores.

vtrophyEcstacy's bat trophy.

vtaraMiss Vamp 2011 Tara Tynanes with Clarisse Empaynado.

vtabTab during the judges question-and-answer segment of the pageant.

vstageChristine Waters answers a judge's question, as well as offering her take on the best feeding grounds in downtown Honolulu.

vlolitaThe Lolitas, from left, Patrick Upega, Alice Demize, Aileen Uedoi and Gina Caluya. Upega and Demize were among three judges' picks for best-dressed audience members.

vsalThe Saldania bloodline is strong. From left, Clea Saldania-Roundtree, Carla Saldania-Capone and Gina Saldania.

vnukeHeidi Shimada is not a designer but a nuclear medicine technologist, who created her ensemble in a day. She's with Frankie Empeno.

vstage2Poni Paradise answers judges' questions.

vnatNatalie Lowrie with Chris Rice, left, and Tory Laitila.

vcameoCameo was a third audience member chose by judges as best dressed for the occasion.

POW WOW: White knights for the arts at 'Blank Canvas'

October 12th, 2012

powannaNadine Kam photos
Blank Canvas committee member Anna Meng, right, with, from left, Reg Worthley, Eve Shere, Kathy Inouye and Myles Inouye.

Hundreds were willing to flout the old fashion rule about never wearing white after Labor Day in support of POW WOW Hawaii's "Blank Canvas" fundraiser that took place Oct. 6 at The Warehouse, at 683 Auahi St.

The evening of art and cuisine included food served up by Mark Noguchi, Whole Foods Market, Whole Ox's Robert McGee, Daniel Anthony, and others, as guests dressed in white dropped off white T-shirts to be worked on by artists Matt and Roxy Ortiz, Kamea Hadar, Jeffrey Gress, Jasper Wong and Cade Roster.

POW WOW Hawaii is a group of contemporary artists committed to community enrichment through art outreach programs. You may have driven past the many Kaka'ako murals painted by artists from all over the world, organized by POW WOW members.

The organization has also partnered with likeminded 808 Urban to go into schools as advocates of art as expression, speaking to youths at risk because they have no outlet for their energy and creativity.

I wasnn't able to stay long, and missed the evening's highlight speed-painting event, which had the artist's creating a giant mural of Marilyn Monroe's face on the building's back wall. We didn't know what they would be creating, and MM made an intriguing choice!

For more information, visit

powpupMike Hogan with his white accessory, Kea.

powartistsArtists Matt and Roxy Ortiz at work on event tees.

pownambaAnne Namba took a break from her fashion biz to worked on the Blank Canvas committee in support of her nephew, artist Kamea Hadar.

powwowCarole Hayashino, president and executive director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i, said she typically dresses in black, and had to pull together every white piece she owns just for the event. I told her she should wear white more often.

powcadeCade Roster works behind a display of one of his finished shirts. (more…)

Beauty Spot: Tata Harper's all-natural skincare

October 12th, 2012

Nadine Kam photo
Tata Harper paid a visit to Neiman Marcus, where she offered mini facials using her all-natural skincare line.

Tata Harper built a successful career in real estate development with her husband in New York and Miami, but ater her stepfather was diagnosed with cancer, it changed her life’s direction.

His doctor at the Mayo Clinic advised him to remove all synthetic products from his daily routines, and as a preventive measure, Harper wanted to do the same. That’s when she discovered how little she knew about the skin care products she used and started research on the cosmetics industry.

“I felt really sad when I realized how toxic everything is. It’s shocking that the things people sell as natural are not really natural, and most women don’t understand what they’re putting on their skin. It’s scary when you consider it’s one of the things you use almost every day of your life,” Harper said in an interview at Neiman Marcus, which carries her skin care line exclusively, in Hawaii.

Core Set2She found that many cosmetics advertised as natural often contained various forms of petroleum and synthetic ingredients. “The synthetic stuff is cheaper. I think that’s partly why the industry is so profitable.”

So, for her own peace of mind, she set out creating Tata Harper Skincare in 2002, which she believes is the only 100 percent naturally derived skin care line on the market. Eight of the 26 ingredients in her lotions and serums — including calendula, linden, lavender and meadowsweet — are grown on 10 acres of her Vermont farm.

Tata Harper's core essentials: Regenerative Cleanser, Hydrating Floral Essence and Rejuvenating Serum work for me, though individual skincare needs and results vary.

Her line includes cleansers, hydrating floral essences and rejuvenating serums that range from $65 to $150.

“I spent five years of intense work with skin specialists, eight different chemists, aromatherapists and homeopathic doctors to come up with a green formulation,” Harper said.

That includes a natural preservative derived from radish roots.

But all would have been for naught if the products weren’t also effective. Harper said that ultimately, “Women buy skin care because they care about what it does, not to make a political statement.”

HJA welcomes People's Choice judges

October 12th, 2012

hjabangleNadine Kam photos
In the Hawaiian category of the Hawaii Jewelers Association's annual design competition, a scrolled bangle with enameled ilima design. Judging was blind, so I don't know who created the pieces shown here.

If diamonds are a girl's best friend, I made many friends this morning while helping to judge the Hawaii Jewelers Association annual design competition.

The criteria for judging the 45 pieces entered were: Overall Design, Marketability, Practicality and Wearability, and Craftsmanship.

Of course, to judge wearability, I had to try on many of the tempting pieces. Always a pleasure judging this contest, and winners will appear in the paper on Oct. 18.

In case anyone else wants to take a turn at judging, the pieces are on view at Opal Fields at Ala Moana Center (across from the Apple store) today, and those who stop by and fill in a ballot this afternoon, and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. tonight at Roy's Hawaii Kai, will be entered to win a $100 Roy's dinner certificate.

Call 949-3982 for more information.

hjanecklaceAnother Hawaiian category entry.

hjabelleA Belle Epoque style necklace entered in the $3,000-plus category.

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