UHM students present 'AXIS'
The Class of 2015 fashion design students at the University of Hawaii at Manoa scrapped the traditional long catwalk during their annual senior showcase, this year titled, "AXIS: point of origin," which took place Sunday at the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio Hotel.
Pillars in the banquet room didn't offer the best sight lines and called for a workaround. The result was a runway around the room that gave everyone a closeup view of the designs as they were presented.
The collections were strong, and I think the best compliment you can give a designer is to say you want to see more from them. I wanted to see more.
GROUP SHOWCASE: "ECO ECLECTICISM"
AYAKA HOSOMI: “LEGACY”
Ayaka Hosomi revisits her Japan heritage through her senior collection, inspired by Japanese textiles.
She grew up with a love of fabric and materials she could manipulate with her hands, and said her work was transformed through a single class in embellishment, which gave her the basics in knitting, crochet and dyeing fabric.
“Everything I learned, I liked, and I wanted to use all the techniques,” she said, and the result showed in her Eco Eclectic group piece, a dress of hand-dyed, sustainable cotton gauze with sculptural, detachable crocheted embellishment.
She said she likes the idea of continuing to work with sustainable or recycled materials. “I think its something we all have to do in the future, and it’s our challenge to make it interesting and different.”
LI JIN KING: “ADAPTATION”
Born and raised in Dalian in Northeast China, it took a move to Hawaii for Li Jin King to discover aspects of Chinese costume lost to a younger generation.
While working with the UHM Historic Costume Collection, she came across a fabric of 100 percent silk, made with a centuries-old, now cultural heritage-protected technique of dyeing fabric over the 60 hottest days of summer, with mud and taro root that imparts an aromatic smell, and unique crackling effect as the garment is worn and ages. The fabric name, xiang-yun-sha, translates as “perfumed cloud clothing,” because of its fragrance and light, airy structure.
“In the creases, it forms a black line, like a tortoise shell,” she explained. According to her mentor, Dr. Shu Hwa Lin, an associate professor with the FDM program, examples of the jiang-yun-sha textiles existed in 5th century China, and export of the fabrics started in the 15th century. It became popular with wealthy patrons throughout Southeast Asia and Russia in the 1920s and ’30s.
King’s collection featured sexy, skin-baring twists on the qipao, the classic Mandarin-collar Chinese dress, as well as menswear comprising silks and reversible apparel utilizing xiang-yun-sha fabric.
By highlighting classic Chinese design, even while making adaptations for today’s wearer, she aims to call attention to some aspects of history being lost.
“I’ve always been fascinated by construction and so much has changed with the qipao. The original garments had no seam lines at the shoulders. Today, they have the seam lines, like Western dress.”
ASIA JOAN MATEO: “JARDIN DE PAPILLONS”
While growing up, Asia Joan Mateo always wanted to be Vera Wang, the figure skater turned bridal designer.
“I attended a lot of weddings and I was always the flower girl wearing the itchy dresses. I was fascinated by the adult dresses and wanted to wear those instead,” she said.
Today, there’s nothing to stop her and she’s brought her love of flowers, butterflies and bridal fashion together in her ultra-femme senior collection with a palette of fuschia, purple and nude colors.
Hers was a romantic collection, and she created a buzz moment when model Erika Eifler twirled in a dress of fabric roses, sending a handful falling around her. People wondered whether that was done on purpose or represented a wardrobe malfunction, so didn't know whether to cheer or gasp.
A suggestion for future fashion shows: In the case of the former scenario, if you want a moment, go big so there's no second-guessing intent.
GABRIELLE SANEHIRA: “MOD NOUVEAU”
Originally a student of photography, Gabrielle Sanehira couldn’t deny her attraction to fashion design. She’d got a taste of it at Kauai High School, where she was involved with theater and costume design, and came to the attention of school officials when altering her boxy school uniform T-shirt to be more form-fitting.
She now incorporates her eye for details and photographic materials in her collection, “Mod Nouveau,” comprising minimalist, mod silhouettes, with accent panels, collars and edging details of large format photo film sheet negatives bearing her own images of water and nature.
“I had to be careful with it because it didn’t have the same flexibility as fabric.”
It took some design modifications to work with the stiff film, but gauging from her Eco Eclectic group design, an American Spirit dress fashioned from the brand’s cigarette boxes, she loves a puzzle.
The sheath dressed is pieced together with darker prints of the cigarette box forming a graphic pattern on the dress.
During her three weeks of working on the dress, she smoked a lot of cigarettes, but said the experience was cathartic.
“It was me finally giving up smoking, working through it,” she said. “While I was working on the dress, I kept think of all the money it costs to smoke.”
GRACE TSUBAKI-NOGUCHI: “MIRAGE”
This year’s senior show marks a second chance for Grace Tsubaki-Toguchi, who had to bow out of the 2013 show due to family crisis.
She found inspiration in a single cactus given to her by her father before his death in December 2013.
“After that, the cactus started to die and I got really sad, but after four months it started to revive.”
She saw that as a sign to go on with her life, and although she could not finish her original line, she found comfort in the colors of the desert, mixed with metallic and sheer element in her current collection of separates and dresses with tiers of color and texture.
“I always liked clean, architectural lines. That hasn’t changed. Only the colors changed.”
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 email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.