Archive for June, 2013

Butterflies a natural accessory to summer

June 26th, 2013


Nadine Kam photos
Khrystyn Phillips dressed in a Bar III dress ($69) from Macy's and butterflies.

The opening of Pearlridge Center's exhibition, “Flutter: A Green Experience,” provided the perfect backdrop for a summertime fashion shoot, with the spirit of the outdoors and the garden, and of course, the perfect natural "accessories," though getting the butterflies to cooperate was a little bit of a challenge.

First, we had to start early, at 7:30 in the morning. Exhibition developer Tom Cleavinger, of Michigan-based Creative RT, which sets up educational exhibitions for museums, malls and other institutions around the country, said morning is when the butterflies are the most docile. They start becoming more active and fluttery as the day warms up.

Inside the Butterfly Pavilion are approximately 125 monarch, rare white monarch and citrus swallowtail butterflies, and families are invited in to observe their life cycle from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis, until their final transformation into a beautiful, fragile-looking winged creature.

Uthpala Walpola with one of "Butterfly Realtor" Dancetta Feary's monarchs.

Non-flash video link

We had to be careful opening the doors, lest any of them escape, as well as watch our step as some land on the ground, perilously close to the back of a foot that stomp in the wrong place at any second.

Picking up the butterflies was a matter of coaxing them to step up. We never grabbed, and the general public who goes through the pavilion will not be allowed to do this. The butterflies do land on people, though, and that's OK.

One landed on our photographer's head, and he went through the shoot with stowaway happily clinging to his Kangol hat. Another landed in my lap as I was sitting trying to adjust my video camera. It helps to enter with a calm, zen spirit because butterflies pick up on human anxiety and become stressed and nervous themselves.

What the butterflies didn't like was tour models' hair. They could be moved anywhere on their bodies, but flew away as soon as they got near the hair. Cleavinger said they probably don't like the hairspray, so he suggested rubbing some orange juice—which they do like, along with Gatorade and other fruit juices—into their hair to make it work.

It was so much fun, I could have spent all day in the pavilion!

Here are the details:

Where: Pearlridge Center
When: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays to Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, through July 14
Cost: $3 to enter Butterfly Pavilion; free for ages 7 and younger
Into: 808.488.0981 or Pearlridge­

Donations earn gifts
Donate two shopping bags of new or gently used apparel, shoes, handbags or accessories for Goodwill Industries of Hawaii from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and July 6 and receive a desktop planter, above, or two butterfly magnets from Pearlridge Center.
Pearlridge Uptown collection spots: Center Court, The Body Shop, Diamond Fairy, Razor Concepts, Razor Sports, Sephora, Tapestries by Hauoli and T&C Surf Designs. Pearlridge Downtown collection sites: HIC, Mark’s Hallmark and Sanrio Surprises.
A portion of sales of $22 Adopt-a-Butterfly kits will also benefit Goodwill.


The average visitor won't be able to handle the butterflies as we did, but you might become a landing pad for a butterfly. Our photographer, Craig T. Kojima, had to go about his work with this little stowaway on his cap for about 15 minutes.

Monarchs in Hawaii tend to be short-lived because of the warm climate. The butterflies live about two weeks, while fall-born migrating monarchs on the mainland may live up to nine months while seeking the warm climate of California or Mexico to mate and complete their life cycle.


Citrus swallowtails are also featured in the exhibit.

The monarch caterpillars live to devour crown flower plants. Their numbers have plummeted in the past four decades, so Feary encourages people to plant crown flower plants.

These monarchs have just emerged from their chrysalises.

These butterflies are feeding on a mash of apples and bananas.

While these butterflies prefer a bit of orange juice. In the wild, they would be sipping on flower nectar.

LICH likes plant diversity

June 20th, 2013


Nadine Kam photos
Iona Contemporary Dance Theatre performers helped introduce segments in the Landscape Industry Council of Hawaii's "Project Greenway" fashion show.

Farming and fashion are two pursuits that rarely share the same billing, but anything could (and did) happen when the Landscape Industry Council of Hawai‘i dared to pre­sent a unique evening of foliage, fashion and food from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. June 14 at Kapiolani Community College.

The event provided the backdrop for the "Project Greenway" plant show putting the spotlight on 60 native and non-native plants for the urban landscape, with segments themed "Forbidden Fruit," "Sophisticated Savages," Garden of Love," "The Restless Natives" and "Jungle Flower."

The show was intended to introduce diversity to landscape architects, who often dictate which plants nurseries grow. According to LICH President Chris Dacus, "This can lead to overuse of certain plants, which is not only monotonous, but it can also be dangerous to rely too heavily on a limited suite of plants that could be devastated by new diseases or insect pests.

"We want to entice landscape architects to think about adding different plants to their palette, including more native Hawaiian plants."

Farmers in their work togs of denim, tank tops, T-shirts and work boots topped with large, broad-brimmed straw hats jogged onto the turf runway bearing pots of plants, while emcee Pamela Young detailed the plants' history and uses, while models in clothing designed by juniors and seniors in the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources' apparel product design and merchandising program pointed out the appropriate plants (many times with an assist from the audience. You didn't expect to find many of these girls doing heavy yard labor, right?)

It was all in fun, and I remembered a time I told a farmer I would like to be a farmer one day. He scoffed and scolded, "Look at your hands!"

White, creamy, soft, spotless, callous free, long nailed. So what?

"You can't do heavy labor," he said. Of course, he's wrong, and I'm never bothered by anyone else's notion of what I can or can not do, because I know my own capabilities.

The event was a great collaboration involving students from three University of Hawaii system campuses, with models' hair and makeup done by cosmetology students from Hono­lulu Community College.

Dancers from IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre added even more color to the event, dressed in dazzling floral costumes conceived by creative director Cheryl Flaharty.

Non-flash video link


Farmers in their signature denim, T-shirts, tank tops and straw gardener hats.


Models in designs by University of Hawaii fashion students.


Flora and flower petal designs created by the University of Hawaii students. (more…)

'Project Runway' seeks fans for makeovers

June 14th, 2013

Now you don't have to be a designer to be a part of "Project Runway" Season 12. The reality fashion design competition is looking for fan fanatics in need of a makeover.

Submit a video telling produceers why you love "Project Runway" and deserve a new look, for a chance to be featured on one of Season 12's runway challenges.

Winners will be flown to NYC and paired with a Season 12 designer for a fashion and beauty consultation, makeover and chance to strut their stuff on the PR catwalk. June 20 is the deadline for submissions.

Entrants must be 18 or older, and up to seven fans will be chosen for the opportunity.

Here's a link to contest, upload site and rules:

For instance, videos must be a minimum of 10 seconds and no longer than 2 minutes, and answer the questions: “Why are you a Superfan of Project Runway” and “Why do you deserve a fashion makeover”?

Add Lucoral Museum to your summer to-do list

June 11th, 2013

lupearlsNadine Kam photos
Chocolate pearls and red coral are among items for sale in the Lucoral Museum's retail shop on Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki.

Lucoral Museum hosted a pearl party on June 6 in celebration of World Oceans Month. Only a healthy ocean can continue to offer up its many treasures, from vital sea creatures, to the fish and shellfish we eat to the beautiful pearls and shells we collect and wear.

Lucoral Museum founder Flora Lu offered up trays of multi-sized, multi-colored, multi-shaped pearls, remnants of the museum's retail creations, allowing lucky guests to string up their own necklaces or bracelets.

I'd never been to the museum and found it's a great place to visit, with an indoor rock cave featuring mineral and coral displays, and the museum's in the process of devising formal pearl parties for girlfriend getogethers or bridal parties, allowing women to come together for a little talk story and creativity, ending with a piece of beautiful keepsake pearl jewelry. Now that's my kind of party!

The museum's exhibitions demonstrate the sad fate of the ocean and sea beds due to man's lack of foresight.

According to the displays, pearls were gathered at Wai Momi, between 1785 and 1840. Europeans had dubbed the area Pearl Harbor because of the abundance of pearl oysters. But overharvesting and the silting of the harbor led to their extinction. The shop's pearls now come from Taiwan.

lufloraFlora Lu created the Lucoral Museum in memory of her mother Lu Hong Kui-Su, as a gift to the children of Hawaii and the world, promoting ocean health and the beauty of its many treasures.

The same thing happened in Kaneohe Bay, once home to edible clams. I thought I was dreaming because as a child I remembered going clamming with my parents, looking for the water spouts in the sand and digging them up, and taking them home in buckets to the dinner table. When I grew up, I wondered if that was a real memory because I don't hear of clams there anymore.

According to fellow Star-Advertiser "Ocean Watch" writer Susan Scott: "In the 1920s several species of clams and oysters were introduced from Japan and North America to Hawaiian waters as a food source. Among these was the Japanese littleneck clam, also known as the Manila clam. Gathering these clams on the mud flats of Kaneohe Bay was a popular activity until 1969, when silt and overharvesting mostly wiped out the beds."

As for the Pearl Harbor pearls, thousands were harvested, but according to the Lucoral Museum, no one knows where they went. None of the world's museums, including Bishop Museum, have a single known Hawaiian pearl in their collections.

For more information about World Ocean Month celebrations in conjunction with Waikiki Aquarium, visit

The Lucoral Museum is at 2414 Kuhio Ave. Open 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays to Fridays. Call 808.922.1999 or email

lupearlThese pearl necklaces were destined for Miss Hawaii contestants.

lutableFlora oversees a group of novice pearl designers.

luclusterLynn Cook gathered up these pearls to make a bracelet. (more…)

Fighting Eel at The Republik

June 11th, 2013

feNadine Kam photos
From left, Fighting Eel's Linh Owen, Rona Bennett and Lan Chung, in a limited-edition FE tee created to celebrate the opening of the third FE store in Waikiki

Fighting Eel presented a fashion show and summer collection launch party at The Republik on May 30th, also a celebration in advance of FE's third store opening at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki on June 16.

The new store is located in a primo ground-floor site in the central Building B. In addition to carrying Fighting Eel, the store will carry the appropriately resort-themed Ava Sky line also designed and produced by the women of Fighting Eel.

It's a big year for FE founders and designers Lan Chung and Rona Bennett, who are marking FE's 10th anniversary. With clothing also designed for the next generation of Baby Eels, they seem to be well on their way to building one of those granddaddy empires, so some future fashion writer will be able to talk about them in the same breath as those multi-generational brands as Tori Richard, Iolani and Surf Line Hawaii!

Non-flash video link

The show on the 30th was created and designed by Lindsey Higa with Mahina Boersma styling hair & Timeless Classic Beauty handling the makeup.

While I was shooting the show, there was a guy standing next to me toward the end, who recognized the pineapple print of one of the dresses. He kept saying, "Wow, that's vintage Fighting Eel; that's really retro."

I was thinking, a guy's not supposed to know his fashion history. Turns out he was the boyfriend of one of the models, who he said has pieces from nearly every FE collection.

I've saved a lot of FE pieces as well. I still have pieces dating to their inaugural summer collection in 2003, when they were doing tight-fitting tank tops with cute appliques, from shakas to starfish. I love those! They are so well made they have held up over time. I also have pieces from one of their holiday gold and silver lamé period. I have at least four of those pieces, from, I believe the fall of 2006, because there was a spring 2007 fashion "Face-off" between Lindsay Lohan and Jamie-Lynn Sigler online at People magazine.

Congratulations, ladies!

fecrowdWaiting for the show to start.

In memory of Christopher Neil

June 11th, 2013

duvinNadine Kam photos
My late husband, Christopher Neil, during one of our lunches at Du Vin.

Yes, I've been absent from this blog for a while. Maybe you read in the paper or heard that my husband Christoper Neil died, and I have been dealing with all the personal matters that follow with the passing of a loved one.

For as much as I've been in the public eye, we were very private, so most people never knew we shared 22 wonderful years together, sharing among things, a love of fashion, though he rarely went overboard the way I did. Allowing for the occasional blue velvet jacket or luxe Etro jacket, he mostly had a classic sense of style formed in his college days: the black T-shirt or white dress shirt, paired with denim and a black jacket, typically from Banana Republic, Armani or J. Crew.

We met cute, in the Honolulu Newspaper Agency library at the old Honolulu Advertiser building, where he initially worked as a labor reporter, while I worked at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, initially in page design, while also reviewing restaurants and working on feature stories. Due to the competition between the two papers, the library was the neutral turf between the two newsrooms and we were something of an outlaw Romeo and Juliet couple. In fact, SB management forbade me from taking him on restaurant reviews to avoid "feeding the enemy," I was told.

photobooEarly photobooth sticker photo.

cbwShortly after we met in 1991, in my rock band days. Chris always knew his place. Kidding. Photographed by my friend Ed Dee Louie, as were the B/W photos below.



usweThe two of us at Midweek style editor Yu Shing Ting's wedding in summer 2008.

It was a good thing he introduced himself (I had already asked Adv. reporter friends—guys—who he was and they were pretty meh; what do guys know?), because for our entire careers, he worked nights and I worked days, and after that first meeting, I rarely saw him in the building. Later on, he told me I wasn't very friendly that day, but what did he expect. I was working and here was this guy giving me the third degree in a rapid machine-gun fire sequence of questioning:"Who are you? What are you doing here? Who do you work for? What are you working on?"

I happened to be working on a story on Megadeth, a metal band whose lead guitarist, Marty Friedman, was from Hawaii, and when he knew the band and didn't mock me for what most newspeople would have considered a trifle of a music story, right then and there I decided he was the coolest guy in our two newsrooms.

Sometimes I would see him peeking into our newsroom from the top of the library's balcony steps, a big no-no. It was only at his celebration of life at Murphy's Bar & Grill May 14 that someone who once worked in the old newsroom told me that he was at the stairs looking for me, and when she'd tell him, "She's not here!" he'd run away. But I was there, I did see him and wondered what he was doing there. I never put two and two together.

My favorite story about getting to know him was when, after a couple of botched attempts to go to concerts together—he had invited me to Los Lobos but I couldn't make it, I had invited him to Dread Zeppelin but he couldn't make it—we ended up at some dive bar on Kapiolani Boulevard. I don't even remember the name of it. As we looked at the menus, he said, "I heard the sardines are good here."

crestaurantChristopher at a restaurant in Kailua, where we lived for 10 years.

At that time, I was the first and only daily newspaper restaurant critic in town and most guys would have tried to impress me with their good taste and knowledge of food. Not Chris. He was neither pretentious nor ever went out of his way to impress anyone. He was just real and honest to a fault. I was so enamored that in my review of Manoa's Cafe Brio one year, I spelled his name out in the first sentence of every paragraph.

Chris had a beguiling mix of swagger and sensitivity. A rock star is what many people called him. He had an aura and energy that drew people in, irregardless of age or gender. Even those who only met him once came away with strong opinions about Chris and after his passing they were able to detail all the particulars of their meeting.

He cultivated a tough facade, but I knew him to be a kind, sensitive soul. "A soft touch," is how a colleague described his generosity. He was a selfless individual in many big and small ways. Even when he was sick, he put my needs and feelings above his own, so if I came home after a hard day he would ask, with great concern, if I was all right and would do everything possible to make things right. If I even mentioned in passing, that I was hungry, he'd jump out of bed to make me cheese and crackers, when simply moving caused him great pain.

After Chris became sick with lung cancer, whenever he felt sorry for himself, he often thought of students he met in his college dormitory at Kent State, before he moved on to earn a Philosophy degree at Boston University. At school in Ohio, able-bodied students were paired with handicapped students, many of whom had but a few more years to live. Yet, they worked so diligently toward their degrees. He admired their tenacity and the experience taught him a lesson in the strength and capacity of the human spirit. He had also learned early, growing up in Connecticut, about the inequities of life and the arbitrary nature of wealth and poverty, as well as the generational continuity of both states. It made him a crusader for equality and the idea that every child deserves a chance to succeed in life.

Neither I nor doctors could keep him alive, but I do want to keep his spirit alive.

Since the death of his friend Alex Lee, an aspiring chef who was killed outside a bar in the early 1990s when he was in his 20s, Chris and I had always talked about establishing a culinary scholarship once we retired and had some spare cash. I can't think of a more appropriate time than now to make his wish come true, which is why I have established a culinary scholarship at KCC's Culinary Institute.

For those who wish to contribute, checks can be made out to UH Foundation, with the notation "Christopher Neil scholarship fund," and sent to:

Linh Hoang, Director of Development
UH Foundation, Kapiolani Community College
4303 Diamond Head Road, ‘Ilima 212
Honolulu, HI 96816

Thank you so much for allowing me to indulge my memories of Christopher.

Recent Posts

Recent Comments