HCC's Nagaue wins Gov's Award
Honolulu Community College fashion technology instructor Joy Nagaue is the recipient of the 2014 Governor’s Fashion Award, presented by Gov. Neil Abercrombie Sunday at the Hawai‘i Convention Center during Hawai'i Fashion Month.
The award honors a professional who has served Hawaii’s fashion community for at least 25 years and has demonstrated leadership and innovation.
“Joy’s commitment to nurturing Hawaii’s fashion talent is unwavering,” said nominating committee member Amos Kotomori. “She usually works quietly behind the scenes, but her undeniable contribution to Hawaii fashion speaks volumes.”
An educator for HCC’s fashion technology program for 35 years and at its helm for 26 years, “Miss Joy” has taught and mentored many of the islands’ fashion talents, including three “Project Runway” contestants from Hawaii, designers behind brands including Manuheali‘i, and countless others who have gone on to successful careers.
“Joy has been like a mother figure for many of us who have gone through HCC’s program, offering guidance when we need it and maintaining close relationships with us even after we’ve graduated,” said “Project Runway” alum Ari South.
The selection of one of Hawaii’s leading fashion educators is consistent with the award’s goal of supporting the infrastructure and individuals that set the stage for the industry’s growth.
Nagaue, who earned her own degree in fashion design in 1969 at the University of Hawaii, said she was hired at Hilda Hawaii by a designer she admired, but days after she started, the designer quit, leaving her in charge. For her efforts, she was nominated for the Governor's Fashion Award during Gov. John A. Burns administration.
"I didn't win," she said.
Her competition at the time included industry heavyweights such as Dave Rochlen and Baba Kea, who I discovered through the newspaper archives when I first joined the staff at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. I was so taken by her work that I tracked her down and invited myself to her North Shore home, just to talk story.
Nagaue said her key word for guiding students throughout their careers is "caring," and she takes an individualized, nurturing approach through those "ugly face" crying jags that inevitably happen, whether in class or career speed bumps.
Through the years I have seen her turn out to her students' events, finding her way to dingy bars and nightclubs where your shoes stick to the floor, all above and beyond the call of duty. That kind of dedication is rare and special.
Congratulations Joy for a well-deserved award!
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage appears in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.