Archive for November, 2012

Project Runway: Ivy tries hand at graffiti

November 8th, 2012

ivyLifetime photos
Ivy Higa works on her graffiti ensemble in the "Project Runway All-Stars" workroom.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 3: "Up Your Aerosol" recap

Just like last week's "Project Runway All-Stars" challenge, this week's proved to be both challenging and fun.

The designers were taken to a graffiti-covered warehouse, termed "aerosol art" here, and just as you'd expect, the challenge was to take spray paint to silk or cotton fabric, and create a work of wearable art.

Hawaii-raised designer Ivy Higa said she looked forward to the challenge that called for "thinking outside the box."

Considering her clean compositions, this was an opportunity for her to get messy and dirty, which is hard to do. That's why I get so mad when the non-artistic look at art and proclaim, "That's so easy anyone could do that."

I think not. Children are capable of great freedom in their work, but most adults have been trained/scared to stay within lines rather than embrace a childlike lack of restraint. I would think it's also hard to paint fabric while simultaneously planning how the art will fall or how it will be placed on a finished garment.

In following her push for girl power, Ivy thought of superheroes and comic books, covering her fabric in words associated with female empowerment.

Considering the art to wear aspect, her finished suit ensemble cleverly drew on the spirit of pop art by Roy Lichtenstein, but the words she chose, like "tenacity" were too long. It would have been more legible and graphic if she'd stuck to her first thought, focusing on such simple comic-book fight words as "Pow" and "Bam." Judge Isaac Mizrahi said as much when he said he was excited by seeing the word "city," but less so to read the entire four syllables.


ivybackThe cropped back was a nice touch on Ivy's jacket.

After all the critiques, Emilio Sosa was named the winner for a dramatic and severe flaming orange jacket and pencil skirt ensemble that judges praised, not only for its strong silhouette, but for its sense of graffiti authenticity. I think he was the only one who actually grew up with graffiti, and in his early remarks, he said the last thing he wanted to do was try to copy graffiti artists. He went with color over graphics.

Anthony Ryan Auld came in second, and Ivy's still doing well in the top three. And Suede went home for a costumey creation only worthy of a Party City.

Toward furthering the cause of women, Ivy has been a longtime supporter of the Nomi Network, with a mission of creating economic opportunities for survivors and women at risk of sex trafficking by providing training, product development and marketing support.

Anyone can help support the cause by mentioning #teamIvy on Twitter anytime and often from now through the series finale. If she gets the most tweets, she'll win $10,000 as fan fave, donating a portion of the win to Nomi Network, which she also supports through sales of her clothing line.

Learn more about the tweet competition here:

sosaEmilio's winning design.

Kensei's 'Art of Jewelry'

November 8th, 2012

art backNadine Kam photos
Renee Nobriga in pearls by Kensei.

It's always a treat to see one of Kensei's rare jewelry fashion shows and though I planned to be in town for his Oct. 28 "Art of Jewelry" event, I had a plane reservation to Washington, D.C. at 4 p.m. the day of the show. On making my plans, I thought that would be enough time, but of course it's not because we're told to be at the airport two hours ahead of our flights.

Then, Hurricane Sandy hit and my flight was cancelled, along with vacation plans in D.C., and New York. So I was able to catch the entire show instead of leaving early.

Kensei staged a theatrical show in three segments, with artful styling from head to toe. Given his Chez Kensei renown as a hair stylist, models' hair was designed to work with specific jewels, head pieces and hats.

You hear about musical virtuosos, able to play every instrument on their recordings, and it's like that with Kensei, whose expertise extends from hair to clothes styling and jewelry design.

Given the multiple layers of clothing, jewelry and accessories, every piece was carefully laid out back stage. I was there before the show started, and was admiring some of the pieces, being careful not to disturb the arrangement.

Considering the amount of work it took to dress models between segments, vocalist Yvonne Iversen was tapped to keep the audience entertained.

The event was a benefit for the American Heart Association, and Kensei and show producer Dale Young presented a $5,000 check to the association at the end of the program.

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art behindLesli Yano, Director, Special Events for the American Heart Association, back stage before the fashion show with the garments that were to be shown with Kensei's jewelry creations, below.

art jewelry

art hairHair by Kensei.

art hair2

art furPono Fernandez in a Southwest-style ensemble.

art form

art butterflyKaren Vance in an ensemble inspired by "Madama Butterfly."

art1Courtney Coleman in black fringe.

art jeweledI love the layered brooches.

art heartThe American Heart Association was the event's beneficiary.

art4Kensei, left, with Leilani Keough, show producer Dale Young, and the afternoon's emcee Cathy Lee.

art winnersKensei with the winners of drawings for two of his jewelry creations.

Hui Makaala stages trio of shows

November 8th, 2012

hui montsuki3Nadine Kam photos
A trio of looks by Montsuki come down the runway at the Hui Makaala fashion show Oct. 21.

Guests at the Hui Makaala 43rd annual fashion show were treated to not just one, but a trio of fashion shows to benefit the Okinawan association's scholarship fund.

The event took place at the Sheraton Waikiki, opening with Okinawan music, dance and drumming before the showcase of women's gowns, jewelry and contemporary men's shirts by Amos Kotomori, including a segment featuring models from Hui Makaala, followed by new clothing and Paradisus Jewelry designs by kumu hula Sonny Ching, and closing with Asian-inspired designs by Montsuki's Patty Yamasaki.

Because of the one-of-a-kind nature of the vintage Japanese silks and brocades that she uses, Patty said her collections are not theme, but fabric-based, and presented 14 groupings of clothing arranged by color or texture.

Examples included:

"Montsuki," a variation of the formal Japanese black kimono with border print at the hemline and mon at the upper body.

"Tokiwa," or Earthenware vintage silk and linen kimono fabrics.

"Plantation Mix" of gray mist textures in washable silks and linens, paired with vintage kasuri cotton (Japanese and Okinawan ikats).

And who knew kumu hula Sonny Ching had a longheld desire to be a fashion designer, which he felt he couldn't fulfill because he was destined at birth to carry on his family's dance tradition? Well, he's now taken fashion on with a vengeance, starting with original prints done by hand and on computer.

And, given his connection to his culture, one might expect Hawaiian style, but during an interview for my story in the paper, he said there are too many other designers doing Hawaiian fashion well, so he wanted to go in a more contemporary direction.

Benefiting from the event are 2012 scholarship recipients:

Lauren Asato: Kapolei High School
Jayna Funakoshi: Maryknoll
Leia Shinsato: Moanalua High
Matthew Taira: Pearl City High
Evan Kawamura: Hanalani Schools
Taylor Preza: Kaiser High

hui ching1One of kumu hula Sonny Ching's contemporary designs, to date available in about 70 boutiques and department stores in Japan.

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hui ching2Sonny Ching's pieces for men and women were paired with his dramatic designs for Paradisus Jewelry.

hui ching3

hui ching4

hui ching5

hui mont1Montsuki's washable silk-and-linen dolman sleeve top/jacket enhance with multi-pieced vintage cotton kasuri/ikat diaganol  pattern inserts ($395), worn with vintage kasuri cotton work pant ($195).

hui kobayashiHui Makaala fashion show honrary chair Ann Kobayashi, modeling for Montsuki.

hui modelsMontsuki's models after the show.

huipattyMontsuki designer Patty Yamasaki with one of her models in aqua vintage silk”shibori/rinzu” kimono waist length silk-lined  jacket with knotted closure ($575), worn over a matching double-zipped bustier ($225), with aqua sueded silk “mompei” Japanese work pant ($255).

hui amosAmos Kotomori, left, with Sonny Ching.

hui ching akemiSonny with Akemi Ueda of Paradisus Jewelry, whose longstanding collaborations started him on the designing path.

Beauty Spot: The Face Shop to open at Ward Warehouse

November 2nd, 2012

fsNadine Kam photos
A peek into the newest The Face Shop at Ward Warehouse.

The Face Shop will open its second location at Ward Warehouse tomorrow, in the midst of Ward Centers Festival of Giving, today through Sunday.

To celebrate the occasion, The Face Shop will be offering a 20 percent discount for shoppers with a Festival of Giving Passport, which is $10, a fundraiser for 75 local nonprofits. Details are at under "events."

I was able to take an early peek before leaving on vacation, and while there, four shoppers wandered in, thinking it was open. On learning it was not, they still refused to leave, browsing and cooing over the product selection. It was clear they were excited about the opening, which had to be good news for owner Thomas Kim, who said he opened the store for those who don't like the crowded parking situation at McCully.

He hadn't originally intended to open a second store in town, and would have preferred to open on the Leeward side, a project still in the works for Westside dwellers who can be patient.

The new store has the same footprint as the original at McCully Shopping Center, and on opening day Nov. 3 will have a few lines exclusive to the Ward location for now. These include the Flebote White Crystal line and Chia Seed Skin Care, made with chia seeds that retain moisture.

I'm loving the lightweight Chia Seed Moisture-Holding Seed Essence as a day and night moisturizer, pairing it with a hydrating Raspberry Roots Sleeping Mask that is great for travel, preventing you from shriveling up like a prune in dry jet air. Just smooth a layer on your face before you sleep, and rinse it off when you get to your destination. Or not. While I do have to rinse it off at home, I found I didn't need to in the extra dry plane air.

It will leave your face shiny while it's on, but on a plane, who'll notice? Other passengers are more concerned about their own comfort.

fsnailsMy first impression of the store is that it is very colorful, due to placement of color cosmetics and nail enamels.

fsmasksThe Face Shop masks are perfect as an inexpensive at-home spa treatment anytime.

fsproductThe Face Shop is known for its skin-care lines from Korea, one for virtually any skin condition.

fslipsFor lips.

fsbbAlso available there is a vibrating BB Cream puff applicator for a flawless-looking application. A downside is it makes it harder to remove the cream, but new cleansers have been formulated to help.

It's a jungle out there

November 2nd, 2012

jungle1Nadine Kam photos
Handbag designer Linda Sakraida with a selection of her newest "It's a Jungle Out There" Hadji Baba bags.

Lynda Sakraida presented her latest collection of Hadji Baba Bags, themed "It's a Jungle Out There," Oct. 29 at The Gallery at Ward Centre.

She figured if she was going to throw a party, it might as well be on her birthday, so it turned out to be a double celebration.

Whereas many artists/designers try to replicate their success as a matter of survival and cash flow, Sakraida's unique in that no two of her bags are ever alike due to a self-professed short attention span. She's also self-taught so isn't beholden to any rules, and because she's inspired by pattern, textiles, textures, findings, jewels and notions, she embellishes her work with one-of-a-kind objects she picks up on travels and in shopping art galleries, boutiques and trade shows. Some recent holiday-themed bags incorporate jewels gleaned from napkin rings.

Her jungle collection include bags incorporating textiles embellished with monkeys and parrots, as well as textured burlap bags that she painted with images of birds and flora.

The one-of-a-kind nature of the bags means there's one particularly suited for each individual.

The Gallery at Ward Centre is at 1200 Ala Moana Boulevard. Call 597-8034. To view more of her work, visit

lynda crowLynda Sakraida's hand-painted burlap Old Crow Bag is $100.

lynda monkeyHer Monkey bag ($315) incorporates varied textiles, leather and a vintage wood-carved flower detail.

lynda lionHer Lion King bag is $250.

lynda ringneckWhat's a jungle without real parrots? The red eclectus is named Maile, the green eclectus is Mulligan and the yellow ringneck parakeet nibbling at Lynda's lei is Romeo. (more…)

Another strong finish for 'All-Star' Ivy

November 2nd, 2012

workroomLifetime photos
Ivy Higa in the "Project Runway All-Stars" workroom.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 2: "Put on Your Dancing Shoes" recap

The challenges on "Project Runway" and "Project Runway All-Stars" are often entertaining for TV viewers, but I wouldn't consider them fun for the designers. But this week's challenge was an exception.

The designers were sent to the Nine West showroom, where awaiting them was a dozen shoe styles. The designers were to pick one shoe to build a disco-themed ensemble around.

Last week's winner Anthony Ryan picked first, then picked Kailua Kona-raised designer Ivy Higa to go second. She chose a glittery gold sandal, that more than any other selection, sparkled like a disco ball.

She picked her follow Season 8 castmate, Casanova, to go next.

prshoeIvy's pick of Nine West "disco" shoe.

After all had picked a shoe and they sketched their ideas, off they were to Mood, where Ivy picked a beautiful complimentary emerald green chiffon to go with her shoe. She was thinking '70s-era jumpsuit. but what she came up with was a combination romper with dress overlay, with a solid-and-sheer fabric mix that has become her current signature.

In fact, just as interesting as her designs so far, has been watching what she's wearing, which have all been her creations, and available for purchase at her website,, a natural method of smart product placement

But when Joanna Coles entered the workroom to deliver her critique, she worried whether Ivy's dress would come across more as day wear than club wear.

prdressIvy's creation.

Ivy, ever the competitive spirit, said she felt that because the prize for the win would be a part in Nine West's ad campaign, she figured it was important to create something that would stand on its own, as well as play up the shoe, and Joanna raised the question as to whether she was addressing the competition or the prize. Ideally, if one lives up to the competition, one would take care of both aspects.

On the runway, Ivy made the top three for the second week, but after all was said, Ivy's dress, with a stone-studded gold yoke and beautiful sheer pleating, took second place. That makes two second-place finishes for the Hawaii designer.

East German-born Uli Herzner, who had no reference point for an American-style disco, was named the winner for a stunning white dress that was more updated American squaw than disco. Somehow, she pulled together many elements, including feathers, fringe, shiny stones and sequined fabric to create a complex, yet easy-to-wear, polished and high-impact dress. It worked out well, considering Joanna's initial criticism was that she must have been asleep because Uli's style of dress was something she'd never seen in the '70s, though she'd been a disco habitue.

So far, Ivy is showing she's capable of beautiful work, and I'm sure the industry is noticing. Hope she makes this second go at the series work for her instead of against her.

prwinUli's winning dress.

prwendyWendy Pepper went home for a mall look inspired by her teen-age daughter, with too many bells and whistles.

Shaheen stars in Bishop Museum exhibition

November 1st, 2012

shaheen designsNadine Kam photos
Garments by Alfred Shaheen show the cultural inspirations that influenced his work.

The work of Alfred Shaheen will come to live through  an exhibition, "HI Fashion: The Legacy of Alfred Shaheen," opening Nov. 10 at Bishop Museum. I will be out of town but will be back in time to see his garments on the runway during a fashion show, "An Evening of HI Fashion," from  6 to 9 p.m. Nov. 17, featuring his work, along with that of Reyn Spooner and Andy South.

I was lucky enough to get a little preview while photographing the museum's staff models for my story in the paper today. It was so wonderful to see so many Shaheen pieces in one spot, including wall-to-wall aloha shirts. And in their workrooms, racks and boxes of Shaheen garments, courtesy of his daughter Camille Shaheen-Tunberg, waiting to be fit onto manikins. Usually, I only get to see Shaheens virtually, during late-night searches on eBay.

shaheen2I bought this later-period Shaheen dress on eBay for about $36 a couple of years ago.

Opening day festivities include talks by fashion historian Linda Bradley, Bishop Museum's DeSoto Brown, and Camille and her husband William Tunberg, who got her started on her mission to recover and preserve her father's creations.

Sometimes, in the day-to-day ordinariness of making a living, people don't realize they are creating something magical.

I always saw the beauty in his work and his factory was still open when I started writing about fashion, but I never sought him out, thinking there was always time. I was too young  to conceive that something here today might be gone tomorrow, and in a difficult economic period, he closed up shop in 1988.

As Camille explained, by then all his six children had other lives in other fields, so there was no one to carry on the family business.

But, a name and style like his couldn't be forgotten, and along with Camille's collecting, she's keeping the Shaheen name alive through licensing of his prints for apparel and home.

I'd like to see some smart manufacturer bring back some of his designs as well, after seeing some of the line shots of 1970s designs I'd never seen before. Getting the prints right would be difficult though, because Shaheen was a master in creating the unique textiles that made his garments stand out.

Guests who do attend the fashion show, at $75 general and $55 for museum members, are invited to "dress vintage." How fun is that?

shaheen exhibitExhibition designer Dave Kemble, with Bishop Museum vice-president of cultural collections Betty Lou Kam, said he was glad that experience from a prior showing of the collection led curators to recommend a specific manikin for the Shaheen dresses, often constructed to fit a voluptuous 1950s 36-24-36 figure.

I only have one Shaheen, that's probably from the 1980s. By then, styles were much simpler and casual and for me, more wearable. I just don't have that bombshell figure his earlier designs were built for. Not to mention his collectible 1940s to '50s bombshell and wiggle dresses regularly sell for $250 to $300 on eBay and Etsy.

But I had to laugh when I received the dress through eBay. As simple as the garment appears, it has a built in bra for a shelf bust that's pretty hard to fill!

I feel like the designer, who died in 2008, would enjoy knowing that women—in spite of their more stick-like or muscular 2012 bodies—still admire and covet his dresses. As Betty Lou Kam, vice president, cultural resources at the Bishop Museum said, staffers unpacking boxes of Shaheen garments were squealing over the designs, and putting imaginary dibs on them, saying, "This one's mine, so is this one ..."

On the 10th, there will also be gallery tours, a screening of "Blue Hawaii," educational activities for children and period-inspired food and drinks available for purchase.
Bishop Museum is at 1525 Bernice St. Call 847-3511 or visit

shaheen factoryBlack and white images courtesy Camille Shaheen-Tunberg
Alfred Shaheen on the factory floor with models, including Beverly Noa in front.

shaheen sketchShaheen designs, including a little Pucci-esque dress, below, that would look current today.

shaheen moreshaheenbevBeverly Noa in a 1950s photo of one of Alfred Shaheen's dresses under the label Surf 'N Sand. Although he was known for this brand, along with other eponymous labels, had many lines his daughter didn't know about until she started researching his work. This dress would likely sell for 30 to 40 times its original price.

shaheen setupAlfred Shaheen cared about brand image and sent detailed setup instructions to every department store that carried Shaheen's "East Meets West" designs. Their ranks included Bullock's, Macy's and Bergdorf Goodman.

shaheen drawingShaheen also published a booklet describing its silkscreen process, which was unique to the company because of the large size of the hand-done prints.

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