Archive for January, 2013

Beauty spot: Madonna Lift & other enhancements

January 10th, 2013

2004 Geri Berger2011 Geri BergerPhotos courtesy Geri Berger
Pineapples Boutique owner Geri Berger, at left, as Mrs. Hawaii International in 2004, and at right, seven years later after Botox and Restylane treatments. She's since added the Madonna Lift to her regimen.

In today's paper, I've written about some of the newest beauty enhancers, from the new Hydrogen Head Spa at Laka Skin Care & Spa, to breast lipoaugmentation with Drs. Todd Mirzai and Bao Phan, which achieves what many women want, transplanting the fat from thighs and waistlines, to the breasts, something many have always dreamed about.

Even though I write about these things all the time, I'm not one to seek out such treatments in my personal life. On the one hand, I think lifestyle has a lot to do with appearance, and even though it was a little late to start, once I learned that nutrition and environment have more to do with signs of aging than the aging itself, I tried to pay more attention to sun avoidance and diet, and tried my best to avoid smiling with my eyes, which helps produces the crinkling and crow's feet many spend good money trying to erase.

So it was funny when I was interviewing Dr. Melanie Tantisira, a board-certified opthalmologist, about the Madonna Lift, and told her I was trying to live my life without expression (though I never grew out of making funny faces), and she said, "Just do Botox and keep your full range of expressions."

I also talked to former Mrs. Hawaii International 2004, Geri Berger, who said she started noticing her wrinkles after smiling her way through appearances during her winning year. That's when she started with Botox, at about 34, then Restylane, and most recently turned to Tantisira again for a Madonna Lift. The CO2 laser treatment was pioneered by Dr. Bruce Katz of New York's Juva Skin & Laser Center, and named after his famous pop star client.

During the approximately 10-minute treatment (allow an hour for numbing the eyes), metal shields are placed in the eye to protect it from damage. The laser sends in columns of energy to stimulate collagen production around the eyes, the smooth and lift the area. The cost is $1,500 for three sessions.

Geri said her goal is not to alter her appearance, but maintain it in order to avoid or delay surgery down the line. A treatment like the Madonna Lift may prevent the need for future eyelid surgery to remove skin that droops from old age. According to Tantisira, those who have 1/2 to 1-inch of extra skin are no longer good candidates for the 10-minute laser treatment.

Geri said she believes she looks better today than during her pageant year, and asked me if I'd had any work done.

Chalk it up to Chinese genes, but I don't have the wrinkles that are a source of so much anxiety to others. Even so, it's hard to ignore the "beauty arms race" that has made it almost impossible to embrace the idea of growing old gracefully. I mean, how can anyone appreciate being a natural looking 40 or 50, in the company of enhanced peers?

I would do anything to avoid a needle, but my primary concern has always been collagen loss, and while we can control a lot of things regarding appearance, nothing can prevent the hollowing effect of collagen loss. So who knows? When you're young, it's easy to say, "I'm not going there," but I may become so dismayed looking in the mirror one day that I break down and opt for fillers.


Melanie Tantisira is at the True Vision Center, Medical Arts Building, 1010 S. King St., Ste. 503. Call 591-9111 or visit

Drs. Todd Mirzai and Bao Phan have offices at the Kapiolani Women's Health Center, 1907 S. Beretania St., Maui, Kauai and the Big Island. Call 952-9779. Visit

Laka Skin Care & Spa is at 320 Ward Ave., Suite 200. Call 397-5252. Or visit

Hanging with girls' best (sparkling) friends

January 4th, 2013

dringNadine Kam photos
Maria Canale for Forevermark Neiman Marcus Bespoke Collection round princess ring.

It's not every day a person gets to hold a fistful of diamonds, so it was a thrill to participate in a Forevermark master class hosted by Neiman Marcus Jan. 3.

In addition to trying on diamond rings created exclusively for NM by Maria Canale for Forevermark, we were presented with batches of rough diamonds to sort, part of the process of understanding the entire journey of a diamond, from mine to extraction, to the sorting process that whittles thousands to diamonds to the rare perfect few that can be denoted as a Forevermark diamond, a brand of De Beers.

The Maria Canale for Forevermark collection is carried in the store's Precious Jewels Salon, one of only 10 locations nationwide, and diamond fans can meet the designer between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. today.

Canale said she originally came up with 10 designs, aimed at an NM customer who she imagined might be buying her second ring. "She already has the Harry Winston, so what would she want this time? Since then, I've talked to many Neiman customers and felt I was right."

dmariaMaria Canale in her designs.

Canale worked for Harry Winston and Tiffany before working independently, and said designing wedding and engagement rings can be limiting because people want the classic solitaire.

"They want it to be simple because they're wearing it everyday, with some detail on the side."

She designs her pieces with a sophisticated clientele in mind, with handmade pieces that focus on details, and often starts by thinking of what she would want to wear, and what kind of piece would she wear if starting with a wardrobe that includes a great pair of diamond earrings one wants to pair with additional pieces of jewelry.

"Men design a lot of jewelry, so I wonder why it has to be so heavy," she said. For her, comfort is vital,  so it was amazing to feel some of her larger pieces, that are so sturdy and well made that you can wear them with confidence, yet they don't weigh you down.

Being surrounded by diamonds in her work, "is great, it's very inspiring," she said, though working with them gives her an appreciation for quality. "You can get diamonds anywhere, but finding those that are a good size, and good quality, you become aware of how rare they are.

dshapeLiz Mearing, of Forevermark, shows us the eight-sided octahedron shape we are after. The octahedron is the perfect shape for arriving at the round brilliant cut diamond, with its pavilion depth, girdle and crown.

A visit to the Maria Canale for Forevermark counter was preceded by the diamond workshop, with Liz Mearing of Forevermark sharing the fascinating history of diamonds, the oldest 4.2 billion years old and the youngest 900 million years old.

The 10.74-carat Eureka diamond, discovered by a boy in 1866, started the contemporary craze for diamonds, styles of which Liz said differ by nation. The idea of sorting diamonds for quality didn't take hold until 1933.

China is rapidly becoming the biggest consumer of diamonds, and she said the purchase is so important, as a family heirloom, that couples shopping for wedding rings bring both sets of parents for a consensus decision on a purchase. She also said older women, in their 40s and 50s, a generation that missed out on the material aspects of contemporary Chinese society, are now playing catchup in buying diamonds. The Chinese tend to buy small, round diamonds.

In the United States, it's no surprise to learn that, like fast food, homes, cars, entertainment, even certain body parts, bigger is better when it comes to diamonds as well. Americans will settle for lower clarity if they can get a bigger stone.

In Japan, the appetite is for clarity in a smaller round diamond.

dstrainMearing shows how the diamonds are first sorted through a sifter for size.

Mearing, who's based in London but travels the world to teach people about diamonds, said, "In the U.K., we like a lot of other gemstones."

She said that's one of the reasons it wasn't an unusual choice for Princess Diana's diamond-encircled sapphire ring to become Kate Middleton's engagement ring.

Meanwhile, in Italy, home of design, she said, "It's a lot more about the design than the diamond, and in India it's about clarity because it's inauspicious to give something that isn't perfect."

Diamonds are found in kimberlite, a type of volcanic rock, which act like a pipeline to the molten core of the earth. Most diamonds are found in South Africa, and no new mines have been discovered in a decade, although the search is continuing in Africa, Canada and India, where some of the first diamonds were discovered.

In searching for diamonds, they look for key mineral indicators, including the presence of garnets. The places where diamonds are found is called "Blue Ground" in reference to a layer of non-oxidized kimberlite.

In sorting diamonds, there are many more than can be made into jewelry, but Mearing said, "We
can't produce enough for industrial purpose."

That includes diamonds used to polish other diamonds, a stone so hard no other material can cut it.

As for owning one of these babies, well, do you have a house to sell?

dforevermarkForevermark photo
Each Forevermark diamond comes with an inscription and identifying number that's not visible to the naked eye or a jeweler's loupe.

droughHundreds of rough diamonds waiting to be sorted. De Beers has 12,000 sorting categories. After spending 15 minutes with the loupe, I think I would go blind doing this job.

dsortOut of all the rough diamonds, only a few are big enough and clear enough to use.

drough2Here are the diamonds I was sorting. Maria came over, took one look and said, "Oh, you've got some nice ones there." Took us a while to identify them. Now I can spot the octahedrons immediately.

ddecoMaria Canale's Art Deco cuff design.

djustineJustine Godfrey wears the Maria Canale for Forevermakr Neiman Marcus Deco Collection Red Carpet Necklace with 10-carat emerald cut centerpiece diamond, in 18K white gold. (more…)

'Project Runway': All-Stars earn no stripes for this one

January 4th, 2013

projectLifetime photos
This week's designs were meh. From left, creations by Anthony Ryan Auld, Emilio Sosa and Uli Herzner, the only one worth wearing in the bunch, though we've seen this dress many times from her.

"Project Runway All-Stars"
Episode 10: "All Stars and Stripes" recap

Although hometown designer Ivy Higa left the competition last week, I'm continuing to blog "Project Runway All-Stars" episode recaps through the season's end. As closure, you can read about Ivy's fashion journey from the Big Island to New York, and her thoughts about being on the show in her journal:

This week, the remaining four designers met at the U.S.S. Intrepid where they are introduced to their models for the week, four women from different branches of the armed services. They will be dressing them in suitable garments for specific events the women will be attending.

Joshua McKinley is paired with an army captain who lost a leg after developing a blood clot. She will be attending a formal event honoring veterans, so he created a short dress with a fitted bodice, flared skirt and pretty illusion hemline with a black-and-white animal print he dyed green. For once, his design was restrained, accommodating her wishes for animal print without going overboard or obvious.

Anthony Ryan Auld designs for a woman in the Air Force who will be celebrating her 40th birthday.

Emilio Sosa is paired with a Navy veteran who needs a dress for her best friend"s bachelorette party in Vegas.

Uli Herzner is paired with a woman who just left the service, and wants a "long, flowing Uli dress" for  a wedding.

The guest judges are Katie Holmes  and designer Carmen Marc Valvo, a really fun designer I had the opportunity to meet once during his appearance at Neiman Marcus. In judging, he appears to be more serious than he really is.

Host Carolyn Murphy spoke of this week's presentations as being a phenomenal runway, but for me  it was just meh. It's sad that designers tend to show so little imagination every time it comes to dressing women who are not models.

winJoshua's winning dress.

Joshua ended up winning the challenge, but I thought his dress was too girly for his subject, and too casual for her formal occasion. It fit her well, however, without making her look huge like Anthony Ryan's design did for his client, or like she found her dress at a sundry store, like Emilio's outfit.

Both Emilio and Anthony Ryan's  dresses looked like my 6th grade sewing projects, when I was just learning to sew. It was no surprise they were the bottom two, but they have also been the judges' darlings all season, so I wondered who they would send home.

For a while, it appeared Anthony Ryan might be going home for emphasizing his client's bust, when she wanted to minimize that area, but in a real cop out, the judges declared a tie, and both designers were saved, proceeding to the finale. In very simple math, I wonder how it could be a tie when there were five judges???!!!

Joshua had his first win. Though Uli's dress was superior, it was also a design she's already known for. It wasn't much different from the dress she wore in opening scenes, which her client gravitated to because of its flowing femininity.

I was hoping Anthony Ryan would go home, paving the way for Uli to win. I really don't want him to win because he displays so much attitude and ego for no discernible innovation or vision.

'Project Runway' recap to come

January 3rd, 2013

Even though hometown designer Ivy Higa was sent home from 'Project Runway All- Stars' last week, I'm continuing to write post-show recaps through the end of the series run.

Unfortunately I don't have Internet service at home so will be posting tomorrow. Thanks for understanding.

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