Archive for December, 2012

'Project Runway All-Stars': Print ends Ivy's run

December 28th, 2012

tahariLifetime photos
Designer Elie Tahari joins Joanna Coles in the workroom to critique Ivy Higa's work.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 9: "There's No Business Like Sew Business" recap

This week the designers are challenged with producing a ready-to-wear garment for Elie Tahari, using his fabric, with the extra step of producing a piece within a practical retail price point.

Funds raised from winning garment sales will go toward NYC's Save the Garment Center and its mission is to promote, preserve  and save the city's stature as one of the world's fashion capitals. The movement's website, states: In 1960, 95 percent of clothing sold in the U.S. was made in the U.S. Now, that figure is down to just 5 percent. Despite this drastic decline, there are still 846 fashion companies headquartered in New York City which is more than London, Paris, and Milan combined. ... There are 24,000 apparel manufacturing jobs in New York City that make this domestic clothing production possible."

When it comes time to choose fabric, all the designers pick colors or prints except Uli, who chooses white (again).

Hawaii designer Ivy Higa picked a dramatic landscape print, and when Joanna Coles and Elie Tahari enter the workroom for their critique, Elie tells her, "You have a lot of guts," due to her choice.

To showcase the entire print, she changes her beautiful asymmetric design to a simpler maxi dress. Elie suggests cropping the dress to do away with a heavy black block to give her dress a lighter, beachy feel.

Ivy counters that she didn't want to disturb the print while giving women the option of hemming the dress to their liking. Joanna said she doesn't want designers to expect buyers to run out to their tailors, calling it lazy. I have to agree with that. There are so many things I buy with the intention of "fixing" them, but there's never time, so everything stays as is and many times go unworn.ivyhJudges would have preferred Ivy's dress in a shorter, beachy length.

To Joshua, whose dress is bordering on tacky and overdone, the designer suggests, "Try to think about what women want to wear," and what they are willing to wear.

His ready-to-wear critiques were very sensible and Tahari, who also co-founded Theory, is known for wearable designs that flatter women.

Later on, the Israel-born designer—who Emilio relates came to New York with nothing and slept in Central Park to survive—said, something like, "When you have to fight for truth, food, love you feel appreciation, and appreciation is everything."

Editors tend to have seen it all and become very jaded but upon hearing this, Joanna goes, "Oh my god, I feel moved." She was so touched and inspired by his thoughts.

In the end, just as Tahari had feared, because of the black color block, Ivy's dress weighed heavy on the bottom when her model was stationary. It flowed nicely when the model walked, but Ivy was sent home. I suspect it had less to do with her dress than the reality that this was her fourth week on the bottom. Her dress was so much better than Joshua's, which was a travesty. His dress had many counts against it, making his model appear to have mono, sagging boobs, while the sides gaped and a roller coaster zipper, with all it's ups and downs, made the models behind look puffy. And the biggest critique, Tahari said his dress looked slutty.

Well, don't cry for Ivy, who immediately went to work for one of this season's guest judges, and continues to get offers.

antAnthony Ryan's dress. I liked Uli's better, and as of this writing, she's winning a higher score with viewers using the "Project Runway All-Stars" website's "Rate the Runway" feature, with 5 stars vs. Anthony Ryan's 4. But I suspect we're not getting the full effect of her fabric from photos. Her knit wool is probably hard for many women to wear, too heavy to sell well.

tahariThe dress translated for retail, now available at as the Liv dress, $398, in sizes 0 to 14. All proceeds from sales will go to Save the Garment Center.

uliUli's dress. Judges commented it looks fresh and young. I think they're subconsciously looking at her model as part of the package.

joshJoshua's dress was a travesty. Elie Tahari said it looked slutty, yet he's still in the game. How unfortunate.

Matt Bruening's fashion show for end of the world

December 26th, 2012

mbmodelsNadine Kam photos
Models dressed in BLVQ, Matt Bruening's holiday collection.

If the world had ended Dec. 21,  Matt Bruening would have been happy knowing his work over the past few months had been for naught, as he closed the year with the showing of his BLVQ | MB Holiday Collection 2013, at The Republik.

So close to the holidays, I'm sure everyone had a million things to do, but it seems as if the entire fashion community was there to show their support for Matt, whose fashion show was also part of Christa Wittmier's "Last Ever" birthday party and fundraiser for the arts organization POW WOW HAWAI'I.

Luckily, the world didn't end, so it was neither goodbye to friends nor the end of birthdays for the woman about town, but she is saying goodbye to her blogging days while continuing her work with Young's Market Co. of Hawaii, and moving on to other projects.

And for Matt, the world's not ending means we can actually snatch up some of his latest designs with its perfect mix of casual sophistication. His minimalist, go-anywhere pieces can be dressed up or down, whether you're headed to a swanky soiree or just wanna curl up on the couch at home.

Many of the pieces will fit into any existing wardrobe, and I don't know if you can see in my video, but I'm particularly interested in a pair of comfy looking bloomers.

To purchase pieces, contact Matt—who's working out of a Chinatown studio—directly at

mbDesigner Matt Bruening cuts up with Lindsey Higa, who, with fellow stylists Geremy Campos and Reise Kochi, helped with the show.

Non-flash video link

L'ill Nell's puts wee ones on path to style

December 26th, 2012

joe1Nadine Kam photos
Joe Bock gravitated to one of Nemo's pals at L'ill Nell's: Clothes for the Curious Kid, which just opened at The Kahala Hotel & Resort. Read on to find out how to win a $100 gift certificate to the kidwear boutique.

If you've got little ones at home, you might want to check out L’il Nell’s: Clothes for the Curious Kid, an upscale children’s boutique that opened earlier this month at The Kahala Hotel & Resort.

During a tour of the store Dec. 19, the Kahala's general manager Roseann Grippo said they noticed vacationers were leaving the premises to shop for beachwear, resort attire and fashionable play togs. After all, why should adults have all the fun in dressing up in breezy, casual local style?

With that in mind, L’il Nell’s was created, managed by Melissa Rocha, who also manages The Kahala Boutique. With resort buyer Barbara Cipro, they've stocked the store with apparel by a mix of local and national brands, swimwear, pool and bathtub toys, mermaide dolls and other toys, plus age-appropriate and beach-inspired jewelry.

kcoraAloha shirts in miniature from Coradorables.

One of the mainstay brands is local kidswear designer Cora Spearman's Coradorables. Other brands include Juicy Couture Baby, Jannuzzi, Kissy Kissy, Neptune Zoo, Makena Surfwear, Hula Star, Island Heritage, Hurley, Diesel, and Roxy.

L’il Nell’s is open daily from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m., just off the grand main lobby and front desk area, across from The Kahala’s famous Celebrity Wall. For more information, call (808) 739-8709.

To win a weekend stay in a Kahala family suite and a $100 gift certificate at Li’l Nell’s, join The Kahala’s Facebook page at at and submit a photo and brief description of your greatest Kahala family memory for the resort's "Oh What Fun Favorite Family Photo Moments" contest. If you're too bashful to sign up for Facebook, you also have the option of emailing your entry to The entry deadline is 5 p.m. Jan. 7, 2013.

Photos of the finalists will be posted for all The Kahala’s Facebook fans to vote for their favorite from Jan. 7 through Jan. 20, 2013. (Voters must “Like” The Kahala Hotel & Resort Facebook page prior to voting.)

The winner will receive a complimentary two-night stay in a family suite (partial ocean view) with breakfast for four at The Kahala Hotel & Resort (subject to availability and black out dates), and a $100 gift certificate for a shopping spree at the newly opened Li’l Nell’s: Clothes for the Curious Kid. The winner will be announced on Jan. 21, 2013 on The Kahala’s Facebook page.

If you don't have photos to back your Kahala memories, there's still time to snap away. For instance, while still in holiday mode and welcoming family and friends from out of town, you might want to get together over afternoon tea at The Veranda. Learn more about the tea service at my other blog, Take a Bite.

Nell'sThe store entry, complete with mini shopping carts for kids.

kidtsI wanted one of these hand-embellished, vintage fabric T-shirts for myself. Alas, these are in keiki sizes only.

kpenguinA penguin backpack.

krashguardThe Kahala rashguard for little girls, bracketed by resort tunics and tops.

kdollsThese mermaid dolls are $16 each.

kidtableA little play area keeps keiki occupied while parents shop.

kidtreeThere's still time to visit a lobby tree, dressed in candy colors for little ones.

Posted in Keiki, Shop | 1 Comment »

FLAG-J brings Shibuya-style footwear to Ala Moana

December 21st, 2012

flagdjsNadine Kam photos
Quiss DJs Heria, Yuria and Qp will perform at the FLAG-J grand opening party beginning 10 p.m. Dec. 21 at The Ginza, 1240 Kona St., for 21 and older. There will be free giveaways, and a FLAG-J footwear showcase.

The Tokyo-based shoe boutique FLAG-J opened its doors Dec. 20 at Ala Moana Center, on the lower level, mauka side of the mall. To find my way, I just looked for the crowd of well-wishers outside the door, halfway between Lupicia and the post office.

The eye-catching brand, which gained its following in trendy Shibuya, the heart of Tokyo's fashion district, is geared toward fashionable women, 18 to 35, seeking the latest styles at affordable prices. Right now, there are platforms, slippers and sandals on sale in front of the store for $39.99, while regular prices run about $129 for a range of styles, including pretty in pink and pastel kitten heels, low boots, pumps, ballerina flats and platforms. For fall, many of the styles incorporate an ultrasuede-like fabric.

FLAG-J is a trademark of the Akakura Corp., which also has plans to open a higher-end Akakura boutique on Beachwalk Avenue in April 2013.

Company president Futoshi Yamamoto went to great lengths to write down his thoughts in English, and read them to a crowd of media and friends at the grand opening. Later, he told me that he has been visiting Hawaii for more than 30 years, having first set foot in the isles as a teen-ager.

He said he's been told one should only open a business in places one loves, and he said he loves everything about Hawaii, and wants to do his part to help the economy by one day also opening a manufacturing company here to offer jobs to local people.

It may take a while to get accustomed to Japanese sizing however. As a fairly homogeneous culture, where most people are of similar size, their footwear comes in sizes small, medium and large, about 6 to 8 in U.S. sizes. Check it out.

flagjAkakura president Futoshi Yamamoto read from his notes in English. Surrounded by hearts, he said that he learned long ago that one must love the place one chooses to do business, and he has loved Hawaii for many years, which is why he chose to be here.

flag2Yamamoto with  Angela Maki Vernon, left, and Miss Hawaii Bo Tanaka, in FLAG-J footwear.

flagplatformsSome serious platforms.

flagjredKick up your heels in red for the holidays.

flag casualCasual footwear.

flag patternWoven plus animal patterns.

flagmgrFLAG-J manager Risako Moribe in her knee-high Flag-J boots.

flagtoastA toast to Ala Moana Center's newest addition.

flagseafoodAt the opening, there was some fabulous food from Taormina restaurant including this seared ahi; grilled calamari and shrimp; and salmon, caper and onion risotto.

flagtaorminaAlso yum, Taormina's salmon with shrimp and avocado bruschetta. We left with desserts from Shirokiya's Kulu Kulu Cake.

flagdecorThe decor is so girly and pretty, and you'll be fitted for shoes on heart-shaped ottomans, below.


flagdoorA view from the entrance, where it looks like you're entering a tunnel of love.

'Project Runway All-Stars': Face-off

December 20th, 2012

ivyLifetime photos
Ivy Higa went up directly against Anthony Ryan Auld in this week's face-off.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 8: "Flapper Fashion Face-off" recap

This week's episode opened with the designer's discussing Casanova's departure last week. He and Hawaii's Ivy Higa were friends after appearing on Season 8 together, so his departure hit her hard, perhaps moreso because they were in the bottom 2 together, so it was a "he or I" scenario.

In a situation where you're basically on your own against some cutthroat competitors, it was probably nice for her to know there was someone in the room who had her back. They were always helping each other, whether with extra materials or having an extra pair of hands to finish a garment. Both are fast workers who could always lend a hand when the other seemed pressed for time.

Any student of fashion should be watching and noting that every setback seems to make Ivy more determined to succeed, and that's what it takes to keep going in New York, where, even if I'm just working Fashion Week there—a week—I come home exhausted. I'm not psychic in any way, but I am sensitive to what's in the air, and during fashion week I feel an overwhelming clawing, desperate vibe from those trying to make it, and it feels like a suffocating, energy-zapping blanket. Yuck!

So this week marked another first. It seemed straightforward enough when host Carolyn Murphy announced the challenge of reinterpreting 1920s Jazz Age fashion for the modern woman. The designers were then asked to draw cards which had them matched with another designer. At that point, one would assume a team challenge, but this time it meant the two designers would face-off against one another, with the winner making the top three, and the other the bottom three.

So Emilio Sosa  was pitted against Joshua McKinley in the creation of an "Afternoon Garden Party" ensemble, Uli Herzner would challenge Laura Kathleen for a design befitting a "Social Soiree," and Ivy vied with Anthony Ryan Auld with an "After Hours Speakeasy" theme. The two don't seem to have much affection for one another, and Anthony Ryan seemed to confirm this when he said something along the lines of, "I'm not pest control but I don't mind exterminating Ivy."

There's nothing like a one-on-one competition to bring out the claws, with Laura Kathleen saying of Uli, "She's more like a stylist who tacks things on to make things look better." Meow.

The one-upmanship kept going when Joanna Coles came in for her critiques, asking the designers to size up each others' work.Emilio said "My lady owns the estate, Josh's lady is a guest."

She also asked Anthony Ryan and Ivy to rate each other's work. Anthony Ryan offered a 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. Ivy rated his dress a 5, saying, "I happen to think his dress looks like curtains from the 1920s instead of a dress from the 1920s."

ivy2Ivy's Art Deco-inspired design.

Her own dress was inspired by the geometry of Art Deco, and she chose an expensive fabric, with, I believe, sequined stripes that she wanted to use to create a chevron pattern. Joanna is positive in telling Ivy her design, "Feels very 1920s. It's very Roxy Hart from "Chicago."

Observing Ivy working, Uli said she's making her life more difficult by cutting a beautiful fabric into many pieces that will be hard to put together. By day's end, it appears Uli might be correct. For a second time, Ivy leaves the workroom without much to put on her model. Her fabric is still in pieces and there's only two hours to show time the next day

After judging, Joshua, Laura Kathleen and Ivy end up on the bottom. It doesn't help that Ivy has a model who doesn't walk dynamically and has a tendency to slouch or stand sloppily. A model with better posture would have showed her dress to far better advantage.

arAnthony Ryan's design. Love the cape, not the dress.

I was so sure Anthony Ryan was going to be on the bottom. His dress was very plain, and while the judges said it looked very modern, it was a shapeless babydoll that was so boring he had to dress it up with a feathered capelet. Well, who can resist a feathered capelet? I just bought one from Sass & Bide.

I was doubly shocked when he was named the winner, but at that point the judges seemed to have no choice. Emilio's dress was beautiful, but didn't have much of a 1920s factor. Judges deemed it closer to the 1930s or '40s. Uli seemed to repeat herself in layering on fringe and other frills. The judges were down on repetition this week.

After that, Joshua was saved for another plain dress that I can find any day in any junior store. I don't know why he's still in the competition.

That meant Ivy and Laura Kathleen were the bottom two, but I had a feeling Ivy was going to be saved because Laura Kathleen had sent jumpsuits and pantsuits down the runway one too many times, and guest judge, actress Gretchen Moll really seemed to work hard to sway the other judges into seeing the work and thought process that went into Ivy's dress, which Georgina Chapman said looked familiar because it was Prada-esque.

So once again, Ivy was spared hearing the dreaded, "You're out." Prada-esque is far better than being Forever 21-esque, which is how Anthony Ryan's dress appeared. Maybe his fabric looked better in the studio than over television.

We're now down to five designers and Ivy needs to do something amazing next week to stay in the game. She's been on the bottom three weeks in a row now, and nobody would survive a fourth week in bottom two. Though at this point, Joshua is the weakest link, unless he can buy some taste.

uliIn the face-off between Uli, right, and Laura Kathleen, Uli won for her fringed flapper dress.

emiEmilio, left, was the winner in his face-off against Joshua.

Leather Soul's downtown homecoming

December 19th, 2012

lsstoreNadine Kam photos
A lounge area in the new Leather Soul Downtown allows men to browse in unrushed comfort and shoot the breeze when they're not shopping.

I meet a lot of starry eyed entrepreneurs in my line of work so I know, vicariously, how hard it is to grow a business and get one's message heard above the constant drone of a 24-hour media culture. It's especially difficult to make it in the fashion realm because Honolulu isn't exactly a fashion-friendly town.

So it's thrilling to see Tom Park opening his third Leather Soul store in downtown Honolulu, a haberdashery specializing in the shoes that built his business, as well as a curated selection of fine men's furnishings and collaboration clothing and accessories. He's succeeded in building up his boutique at Royal Hawaiian Center, followed by a boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, and now has returned to downtown Honolulu, the setting for his first business, in no more than 500 square feet. His newest store measures 19,000 square feet in the beautiful, historic historic Stangenwald Building. And he's accomplished all of this in eight years.

I wasn't there in the beginning, but discovered Leather Soul in 2008 when it was housed in another closet of a space in an unassuming second-story space in Waikiki. I was accompanying my husband in his search for great shoes, which included making a tour of John Lobb and Church's stores in New York, before he bought Aldens from LS.

Pretty soon I was attending LS's grand opening at RHC, then following Tom's move to a bigger space, then celebrating an expansion of that space. It's amazing to see this house that shoes built, and in my story in the paper today, he reminds that Nordstrom also got its start with shoes.

Could we have a future Nordstrom-caliber homegrown store in our midst? It's exciting to think about the possibilities. The new store opened Dec. 17 at 119 Merchant St. Here's a look:

lsdisplayA display of leather goods and footwear, with art of the Fab Four.

lstomLeather Soul owner and founder Thomas Park, center, with downtown general manager Justin Cariaga, left, and Waikiki general manager Takuya Hoshino.

lsjamesCindy Ellen Russell photo
James Chan, Realtor-partner with Prudential Locations, models some of Leather Soul's apparel: a Taylor Stitch for Leather Soul blue oxford shirt ($130), Hillside pocket square ($45), Whitehouse Cox belt ($150), and Alden 966 burnished calf shoe ($475), mixed in with his own slacks and jacket.

lsaldenOne of only 24 pairs of Alden Cigar Jumper Boots available in limited-edition Cigar Shell Cordovan ($725) to mark the grand opening of Leather Soul Downtown.



lsfootballJoe Bock, with Lisa Yamada, has fun with one of the store's props, a suede football. He had a very different prop in hand when we visited the Kahala Hotel earlier in the day for tea and a visit to a new children's boutique. I'll have that post up later!

lsrolexNew, collectible and vintage Rolexes and other timepieces will be available at the shop. One example is this GMT Master model 1675 1970s faded bezel sport Rolex, about $7,000.

ls3From left, Richie Miao, Kris Tanahara and David Bui, vice president of watch specialists, Honolulu Time Co., who is offering some of their timepieces at LSDT. (more…)

'Project Runway All-Stars': Merry unChristmas

December 13th, 2012

ivyworkLifetime photos
Ivy Higa at work on her Week 7 design.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 7: "An Unconventional Nightmare Before Christmas" recap

This week on "Project Runway All Stars," the designers met host model Carolyn Murphy at the South Street Sea Port, where Fawaz Gruosi, founder and president of de Grisogono Geneve, also awaited. The challenge had nothing to do with his company, and he was there just to announce that the challenge winner would receive a de Grisogono watch.

The designers were then instructed to visit the second floor of the retail area, where they would head to a certain shop to find the materials they would use in the dreaded unconventional challenge. (The episodes were taped over the summer, and this was one of the areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy; some businesses at the seaport still remain closed.)

The designers were distressed to learn they were headed to a Christmas shop with instructions to create a garment that offered no clue as to the source of the materials.

Christmas materials are typically obvious because of the colors, amount of shine, metallics and glitter, so this was a tough one, and the person who freaked out the most was Emilio Sosa, who went home during his season during another unconventional challenge.

I laughed a lot when Joshua McKinley pulled out what he thought was a package of blue material, but when he unrolled it, it turned out to be a cartoony "Happy Hanukkah" menorah wall hanging. Definitely unusable.

Hawaii designer Ivy Higa said she knew she wanted to create a flapperesque dress. Nothing remotely Christmasy about that, including a return to the color yellow, gleaned from a tree skirt.

Once again, she and Casanova were playing around with the materials, causing Uli Herzner to note that they're like "one person in two bodies," and someone else to wonder what would happen if one of them were to be sent home. Ooh, foreshadowing!

Interestingly enough, last week I noted that it seemed Anthony Ryan Auld had adopted Ivy's style for last week's challenge, yet no one called him on it, and this week she observed his design was looking a lot like Uli's. The ever easygoing Uli, who's looking more like she may end up being the last woman standing, also noted Anthony Ryan's design was looking a lot like hers, but different enough for comfort. You can see both designs below, but I like Uli's better. It's just more cohesive, like she started with a plan. Anthony Ryan's looks pieced together any way they happened to fall into place. And some of the snowflake materials were obviously Christmasy.

uliUli Herzner's design. She's also blessed with the season's best model, with the best walk.

ryanAnthony Ryan Auld's design.

The judges mixed things up a bit by calling on Emilio, Casanova and Ivy, and telling them that only one of them is safe. I was pretty sure Ivy would be the safe one. Her design was less flapper—the drop waist wasn't dropped down far enough—and more 1960s mod, which shares similar broad appeal. But she was the only one who created a look that didn't look as if it had been made with odd materials, much harder than going glam. The judges, however, considered it playing too safe.

I was really shocked that Emilio was declared safe. I think he should have gone home for a mess of a dress that was garish through and through and held together with glue. I think he knew he should have gone home as well. The only one worse was Joshua, who, because he had no fabric, had to resort to breaking up ornaments to create an armored bra, and ribbon to create some hideous shorts.

Uli was named the winner of the challenge and Ivy ended up on the bottom for the second week in a row, with her buddy Casanova, who had gone through a series of designs, and lacking materials in the end, had to piece together a creation made from castoffs from the other designers.

When told she was in, Ivy broke into tears for losing her friend in the workroom, so when they went back to join the other designers, they thought she was out. Casanova had to tell everyone it was actually him going home and he was touched that so many others in the room also broke into tears.

We're now halfway through the season and Ivy's now in the Top 6, already two places higher than she finished in her original Season 8.

ivydesignIvy's decidedly non-Christmasy design.

casanovaCasanova's tortured, Frankensteined creation.

joshuaA big no for Joshua.

emilioEmilio was lucky to be saved considering the hot-glued mess he sent down the runway.

Anteprima offers peek into spring

December 13th, 2012

abraceletNadine Kam photos
Anteprima's signature fiori design gets the sparkly treatment for Spring/Summer 2013.

Anteprima is celebrating its 6th anniversary at Royal Hawaiian Center and marked the occasion with the launch of its Fall/Winter 2012 collection, and a preview of its Spring/Summer 2013 wirebag collection.

In addition to the brand's traditional knit wirebags, spring will mark the introduction of its new woven wirebags, made with Anteprima's signature luminous PVC wire. The effect is a bit more subdued in this format, even with the violet metallic sheen of the darker handbag below.


awireThe wire weave, up close.

abowA bow-shaped bag.

Shoppers could also browse a collection of festive fall handbags, including such new arrivals as panda-themed purses, as well as such smaller items as cell phone and purse charms, clutches and jewelry for the holiday season.

apandaThis crystal-accented panda purse is about $973.

anecklaceI tried on this necklace ($204) that has the boldness of a Marni piece. It's secured with ribbon ties, so adjusts from chest to collar lengths. Many of the wearable jewelry can double as purse accents for more usage. The same necklace graces the bag below.


abagjA pearly collar, $264, can also be worn by person and purse. The bow piece is sold separately.

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