Time travel with Michal Negrin
Among the new stores that have opened recently at Ala Moana Center is Michal Negrin Hawaii, offering a line of jewelry and apparel created by the Israeli designer.
I had passed by the store a couple of times, but was too busy too go in, and at first glance, it didn't seem like a store that suits my style. In its florid, rococo style, it seemed out of place in this minimalist era.
On closer inspection, I found much to like in this place that celebrates the romance of past eras, even if shoppers find the jewelry hard to pigeonhole.
“They always ask, ‘Is it French, is it Italian?’ said shop owner Maya Ben-Dor. "It’s a little Victorian, a little Edwardian, a little 1920s, and even 1960s. It’s very fusion.”
Add elements of the Belle Epoque and Art Nouveau, and it all comes together in one ornamental whole. Stepping into the shop has the feel of entering a Victorian paper-doll house, with its sepia colors, chandelier and floral decor.
Negrin got her start in 1988, selling her crystal-embellished lace jewelry in an open-air market in Tel Aviv. She had grown up on an Israeli kibbutz, a collective community based on agriculture and stressing group conformity, where, “she had to dress plainly. Everybody dressed the same and there was no jewelry, so this is sort of her reaction to that,” Ben-Dor said of the glittering array surrounding her.
Today, there are more than 65 Michal Negrin stores around the world, with U.S. locations in New York, Boston and Los Angeles. According to Ben-Dor, the company is the largest user of Swarovski crystals, behind Swarovski itself.
Pieces in the store start at $25 for a simple pair of earrings, while lace necklaces handmade in Israel can fetch up to $980. Each piece is signed and carries a lifetime warranty.
Similarly, clothing here is individually printed with floral and lace designs, and cut individually, making each piece unique. Although they appear dressy, many of the pieces are made from a Lycra “chiffon” that’s comfortable and travels well.
“If you have a lot of sparkling people on your gift list, there’s something to suit all ages and all demographics,” Ben-Dor said.
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.