April 28th, 2015
Ten designers from Honolulu Community College's Fashion Technology program presented their senior collections during the school's annual fashion show on Saturday.
“Juxtapose—Central Park After Dark" saw the school's Building 5 Courtyard transformed into a New York cityscape with a backdrop of skyscrapers, trees and small bridge on the runway.
I spotted one of the school's illustrious alums, Kini Zamora, in the crowd, but where was his fellow "Project Runway" designer Ari South?
Well, what a surprise when — just when we thought the last model had appeared in the finale show — Ari turned up on the runway in a red ballgown created by Kyle Woolsey, for whom South had served as a mentor.
I still remember seeing Ari (when she was still known as Andy South) during a friendly post-fashion show walk-off at Kahala Mall. Andy in stilettos put the girls to shame, and at that time none of us knew of the changes in store.
To see Ari in full blossom was a spectacular moment that will be remembered for years to come.
Here are the collections:
CHIOLOGY BY SHAILANNE AH LOO
The idea of balance, in life, work and enjoyment of outdoors, appeals to Shailanne Ah Loo, whose meditations brought her to Chiology, based on the Chinse belief in chi, a life force energy that flows through all living things.
Ah Loo attempted to capture the free flow of wind, the abundance of nature’s colors in a collection that is playful and full of life, and adjustable to suit an individual’s needs and whims.
WATERMARK BY JOLIBER ALBANO
In the fashion world, there are designers who love structure, and those who love flow, and the two styles rarely merge. Joliber Albano is the rare designer capable of marrying the two aesthetics, to womens’ best advantage.
“I like to accentuate a woman’s body. My styles have features that create the illusion of a slim waist, pleats to add volume to a small bust, or to make it look like you have a perfect hourglass figure.”
Her philosophy grew out of her own problems finding suitable clothing for her petite frame.
“I have a small bust and found clothes that just accentuated what I don’t have, or dresses with back plunges that couldn’t be worn easily without a bra.”
Now, if she does create a plunging back, she builds in a bra, and even a simple sundress has figure-shaping princess seams.
CHERRIE AMOR BY CHERRIE LYN BELTRAN
Perhaps second time’s the charm for Cherrie Lyn Beltran, who joined the HCC fashion program in 2003, but left to raise her daughter Haleina. Beltran’s earlier focus was on women’s fashion, but her daughter has inspired a line of girls clothing that allows them to look like girls, not pint-sized strumpets.
“My daughter’s at that age, between 8 and 12, when she’s past the cutesy tutu dress age, but not a teenager. What I notice when I’m shopping is that a lot of clothing for girls her age show a lot of skin. I know I’m not the only parent who doesn’t like that.”
While she’s still able to control what Haleina wears, she’s creating girlwear that keeps her daughter covered. “No midriffs and risqué clothing.”
In the process, she’s created some clever convertible pieces and separates, and a signature motif of triangles. And Haleina seemed pleased to walk the show's finale with her mom.
MEDITERRANEAN DREAMS BY IRENE CRAMER
Irene Cramer already had a career as a speech/language pathologist, but after caring for her mom after she became sick from cancer, Cramer adopted the philosophy that life is too short to not pursue your dreams.
“I needed to be doing what I really love to do, and that is designing clothes. I wanted to see what I could do and challenge myself.”
As an avid surfer, paddler and former collegiate swimmer, the ocean has always played a big part in her life, and now, her senior collection, created in soft, ocean-blue colored and eco-conscious bamboo fabric.
“It’s made to travel well; it doesn’t wrinkle.”
Her dresses and separates are made with island-style day-to-night transition pieces created from lightweight white eyelet to look like bubbles on ocean crests.
THE MINIMALIST BY KAREN DULATRE
Karen Dulatre is a daydreamer and people watcher who enjoys observing people and making up stories about their lives, based on what they’re wearing.
“I woud imagine them going out to dinner, or going to a tea party,” she said, and that has translated into her own collection of basic pieces that can be dressed up or down to suit any occasion “so they can be at-school casual, more flirty for parties or add a little more for evenings, a nice jacket or heels.”
Considered the “shy quiet girl” while growing up, Dulatre said, “Fashion is the one outlet where I’m slowly not afraid of showing people who I am,” and her aim is to help others express themselves through clothing choices.
A-MAIZ-ING BY VERONICA HENDRICKSON
Veronica Hendrickson takes inspiration from her Mexican heritage in creating her collection of wedding gowns and bridesmaide dresses from manta, a traditional Mexican cotton fabric that she imported from her home country, accented with a maize, or corn, print.
“Corn represented more than food to the Aztecs and Mayans. It was seen as something spiritual and life-giving.”
Although she owned a special occasion custom clothing shop while living in San Diego from 2002 to 2012, her HCC experience marks her first time sharing her own beliefs and handiwork.
“When I came here, I didn’t speak English. I have three kids and want to finish my education and show them that anything is possible.”
FOREVER LACE BY CHARAE LELEO
Charae Leleo grew up surrounded by plus-size women, and knowing their struggle to find clothing that allows them to look good and feel sexy and confident.
“We all know that bigger clothing just isn’t cute,” she said, and set out to do something about it. “I want to make things that fit them and make it easer for them to shop.
“Plus size doesn’t seem as important because the fashion shows always feature skinny models, but they want to look super cute too.”
STREET BANGERZ BY ALEXANDER PROPIOS
Two generations are represented in Alexander Propios “Street Bangerz” collection, an ode to his father’s artistry as much as his own creativity, with dramatic results.
“My father and grandfather were both artists, so I grew up surrounded by design,” said Propios, who discovered a passion for fabric design after taking a course in textiles last year. Fast forward to the present, he was able to create his own graphics on Kindle, which he had digitally printed on fabric in Los Angeles and turned into a visually stunning line of sports and casual wear separates.
Propios lost his father, who died at age 50, six years ago, leaving him with his sketchbooks. Propios incorporated some of his father’s nude illustrations into his own design, saying his father would be proud to see his work given such public display.
“He worked as a truck driver, but at home was always drawing in front of me. He did screenprints too, but it was all a hobby. He never took it outside the house.”
FREE RAIN BY SAVANNA RAINS-COLE
Savanna Rains-Cole grew up wanting to be an artist, and now expresses herself through her retro, carefree designs created to suit the modern vintage girl.
“I love taking something old and bringing it to life again,” she said of breezy minis that appeal to those with a nostalgia for past decades, “when it looked like people had more fun.”
With her artists’ eye, Rains-Cole is drawn to bright color and prints that fuel her collection.
“I just want to create things that people will look at and be inspired by.”
FROM ME, TO YOU BY KYLE WOOLSEY
Kyle Woolsey was raised to be a master of the universe, studying taekwondo, writing essays and dreaming about becoming a lawyer. Even with a knack for writing, he didn’t feel it was enough of a creative outlet.
Then, during his senior year at the Myron B. Thompson Academy, he decided to create a mini fashion show for his final project, and became hooked on the process of draping and constructing gowns, which he learned over the course of completing his project, with the help of mentor Ari South.
Woolsey presented a collection of dramatic and extravagant ballgowns worthy of any female master of the universe.
Raised by a single mom, he said, “I love women and how resilient they are. I want to help elevate them, and help them to feel good confident and strong.”
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.