By Nadine Kam
Nadine Kam photos
The 1950s meets 1980s in Jenna Sato's "Dreamboat" collection.
Students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Apparel Product Design and Merchandising Program staged the 47th annual senior fashion show, “Zeitgeist: Spirit of the Times,” April 28 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.
The show featured the work of 13 junior designers and seven graduating seniors, highlighted by the individual senior collections, with a finale of three segments: “Blistering Magnetism,” with strong abstract and modern details; “Écobilan,” meaning eco-balance and offering examples of sustainable design; and “Renewable Energy,” incorporating LED lights and glowing fabrics.
Here's a look at what was shown, along with snippets of my interviews with each of the seniors prior to the shows, allowing you to watch the videos and see how well they lived up to their intent.
Congratulations all, and see you in the real world!
Models in ultra-freminine looks from Kitti Kurokawa's "Le Blossom" collection.
Patricia Clariza showed Jazz Age-inspired looks from her "Moonshine" collection.
A 1980s film about the 1950s captured Sato’s imagination. Watching “Back to the Future,” she learned the term “dreamboat” and was inspired by the era’s innocence, full skirts and sweetheart necklines.
She couples brocades with sheer fabrics, with a little bit of the 1980s expressed through high-halter necklines and backless silhouettes, “so it’s not typical 1950s,” she said. “It’ll have a little more edge and sexiness to it.
“There’s a lot of my personal story in it because I love vintage, and cutouts are my signature detail.”
Just because Moers’ focus is fashion doesn’t mean he’s been ignoring his other classes. The anthropology and history of earlier civilizations started him thinking about ways our ancestors used natural materials to shield themselves.
His collection embraces leather and other natural materials that lend themselves more to construction than draping when suiting up the modern warrior.
“It’s taking the idea of making nature very edgy and clothing the warrior of today,” he said. “We’ve evolved, but we still need those shields — not for battling lions and tigers, but battling other things that are more emotional now.”
Nakamura has long been a film buff and since high school has been drawn to costume design as a way of revealing the development of character.
Her collection was inspired by “Blade Runner,” marking her attempt to replicate the replicant Rachel’s evolution.
Nakamura tells her story with structured 1940s-style suits coupled with hard copper collars, to a softer look, ending with 1930s-style bias-cut garments in textured silks and wools.
Tyvek, a waterproof plastic paper most often spotted on construction sites as a water intrusion barrier, is also the foundation of Lee’s origami-inspired designs.
“I wanted to keep to traditional origami. Other designers have used fabric; I wanted to stick with paper,” she said.
It is a difficult medium for fashion.
“Once you puncture it, that’s it,” she said. “A lot of creases show up with handling, and you can’t iron it, except with low heat, or it will melt.”
Even so, her gamble will pay off in stark white, geometric shapes that are bound to garner a lot of attention.
Just before the Kauai-raised designer first set foot in a UH classroom, he visited Japan with his parents, where they came upon “hills and hills of lavender flowers” in Hokkaido.
“It was still snowing, and the wind would catch the flowers and they would move it in huge waves,” he said. “It was breathtaking.”
They got out of the car to take photographs and lie in the fields, and the beauty of that moment is reflected in his collection featuring lilac and other floral hues, also inspired by laid-back Kauai and his grandmothers’ orchid collections.
The designer loves the complexity of a mash-up of different weights and textures of textiles and brings her piece-y aesthetic to a collection of outerwear that showcases her love of contrast and tailoring.
Not all her friends understand her penchant for mixing styles that might include a bit of loose grunge with uptight, buttoned-up jackets.
“They tell me, ‘I don’t even know what you like. I don’t know your style.’”
But the fashion crowd will appreciate the beauty of her paneled coats, and her friends are likely to follow suit … as the mainstream always does, two years later.
The designer was drawn to the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age of the 1920s and ’30s, saying she was drawn to the “burgeoning of sexuality expressed through clothing.”
Her designs are suited to the contemporary flapper, with sequins and sheer fabric bringing an element of decadence, and elegant draping that provides ease of wear.
Attuned to current social settings, she said that in her garments, “You’ll stand out, but won’t look out of place. You can dress it up or down any way you want. Anyone can pull it off.”