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Antique purses on view at SFO

April 27th, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

These mesh purses are among the vintage and antique handbags on display in the "Essential Style: Vintage and Antique Purses" exhibition at San Francisco International Airport, courtesy of the SFO Museum.

Essential Style: Vintage and Antique Purses
On view at San Francisco International Airport through July 22, 2016

Waiting at airports can be a boring, mind-numbing experience, but at San Francisco International Airport, in-house SFO Museum exhibitions turn it into a culturally enriching one.

SFO Museum became the first cultural institution of its kind located in an international airport, in 1980. Displays are compact, varied and fun. Last time I passed through, there was an exhibition of Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett's monster-themed guitars. There are 20 exhibitions throughout the airport at this time, but I happened to be passing through the international terminal en route to Dubai, and chanced on the "Essential Style: Vintage and Antique Purses" exhibition. I love purses so of course I was thrilled. Many of the pieces are credited to the Antique Purse Collectors Society.

According to exhibition materials, purses date to the medieval period, but I'm pretty sure they have been around as long as men and women had to carry talismans and other personal items. They didn't remain utilitarian objects long as humans have always wanted to put their personal stamp on items. Purses quickly evolved into a sophisticated decorative art and fashion accessory, and bags have always showed the creativity and skills of their makers, from metal and leatherwork to weaving, embroidery, and knitting. That's why I like them so much. They are a form of portable, everyday art.

Purses continue to fascinate and tempt us. I just read that a trio of Hermès Birkins topped $100,000 each in an April 18 and 19, $2.5+ million Heritage Spring Luxury auction in New York. A rare limited edition Matte So Black Nilo Crocodile Birkin topped the trio with a final price of $125,000, while an Extraordinary Collection Matte Black Porosus Crocodile Birkin Bag with 18k White Gold Hardware went for $118,750, and a Matte White Himalayan Nilo Crocodile Birkin Bag finished at $100,000.

Metal mesh purses were popular in the 1920s, and the Mandalian Manufacturing Co., created beautiful painted designs. In the early days of eBay, I searched for these and feel lucky to own purses identical to the two on the right. I just don't get to use them because they don't hold much. Even a driver's license is too long and wide to fit through the bottom.

Historically, men and women wore purses attached to their belts or fabric bands that hung from the waist. After pockets were introduced to male clothing at the end of the 16th century, men's use of bags declined. But women's styles became increasingly sophisticated. A number of workshops in 18th century France began producing exquisite beaded purses employing up to 1,000 beads per square inch.

The exhibition opened on Jan. 22 and is on view in the International Terminal, Departures Level 3 through July 22, 2016. View more at: http://www.flysfo.com/museum/exhibitions/essential-style-vintage-and-antique-purses#sthash.AzKCyebj.dpuf

I was also a collector of Lucite purses of the 1940s until I learned the hard way that some of caramel-colored acetate ones are now leaching chemicals. I worked so hard to attain a beehive bag and another made of this material, only to see them collapse, which is why the collectors were getting rid of them.

To showcase their needlework skills, 19th century women often crafted their own beaded and embroidered bags. This is one homemade example.

A few fun and highly impractical doggie-themed purses.

Long before raves, women had the dilemma of how to carry lipsticks and cigarettes. These dance purses from 1920s and '30s France comprise celluloid and silk cord. The lightweight purses were made to dangle from the wrist.

Because of the time and effort to string beads that when knitted, would create intricate designs, knitted, beaded scenic bags commanded a high price in the early 20th century.

More beaded designs.

Oscar de la Renta at DeYoung

April 23rd, 2016
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PHOTOS BY NADINE KAM / nkam@staradvertiser.com

Oscar de la Renta's 2000-01 Spanish-influenced designs were the focal point of one of the tableau in a retrospective of his work at the de Young Museum in San Francisco. The exhibition continues through May 30.

"Oscar de la Renta: The Retrospective" on view at the de Young Museum of Fine Arts in San Fransisco, celebrates the work of the designer who was born in the Dominican Republic, trained in Spain, and made his career in the United States, until his death on Oct. 20, 2014, at the age of 82.

The world premiere exhibition, curated by André Leon Talley, former editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, includes 120 ensembles, curated from the best museums in the United States, and his friends, family and clients.

The designer was born Oscar Arístides Renta Fiallo in the Dominican Republic and trained with Spanish designers Cristóbal Balenciaga and Lanvin designer Antonio del Castillo.

After moving to the United States to create ready-to-wear fashion in the early 1960s, he made his name as by dressing First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In addition to designing for his own eponymous brand, he designed the haute couture collection for Balmain between 1993 and 2002.

The exhibition covers five decades of de la Renta fashion, but instead of being organized chronologically, it is organized by themes, showing how Spanish influences in his life were consistently reflected in his work. Other galleries reflect a fascination with Asia, a love of gardens, and his popularity with New York society, celebrities and heads of state over decades. He dressed everyone from Audrey Hepburn and Liza Minnelli to Rihanna and Taylor Swift, and the show closes with some of his red carpet creations.

Beyond fashion, a video gallery screens mini docs about the designer, including his desire to give back to his home country, by opening schools and orphanages to help disadvantaged children.
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Tickets for the Oscar de la Renta exhibition at the de Young Museum in San Francisco start at $30 per person, including general admission. Discounts available for seniors, students and youth. Free for ages 5 and younger. Premium tickets are also available. The museum is in Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive. Open 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays, through May 30.

Some of my favorite pieces in the Spanish section were those the designer created for Balmain. This summer dance dress and bolero were worn by De la Renta's wife Annette. It comprises silk, jet beads, passementerie and raffia.

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This spring 2005 flounced lace evening dress was designed especially for Annette and was the designer's favorite, comprising black tulle and black silk taffeta applique.

De la Renta enjoyed gardening and that was the theme of a Vogue photo shoot by Peter Lindbergh, published in October 1997. These mannequins in floral silk Balmain gowns were arranged to recreate one of the images.

Acknowledging the rise of the Asian model that coincided with China's and Korea's growing economic power, Vogue reimagined a 1948 Cecil Beaton photograph, with eight Asian models wearing Oscar de la Renta Spring 2011 ballgowns. The new photo was shot by Steven Meisel. This detail of the photo is displayed on a video screen, with mannequins in the dresses posed in similar fashion.

Detail of jeweled tassels gracing a jacket and skirt ensemble from one of de la Renta's Asia-inspired collections.

This 1998-99 Oscar de la Renta for Pierre Balmain evening dress is of green silk tafetta with beads, sequins and metallic thread embroidery. It was juxtaposed with Russian artist Konstantin Makovsky's 1884 painting, "Preparing for the Wedding."

More Spanish ruffles.

I'm too sexy for Dubai

April 21st, 2016
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PHOTO BY CRAIG T. KOJIMA / ckojima@staradvertiser.com

I had to dig into my closets and drawers to come up with a handful of garments appropriate for travel to Dubai, which means covering shoulders and hemlines below the knees. This is one of the few dresses I have that isn't a shoulder-baring tank style.

Pretty much no one in Hawaii would use the words "too sexy" to describe me. I don't dress provocatively and don't strut around as if I think I'm God's gift to men. If I do bare arms almost every day, it's because our Western standards make it OK in a hot, beachy city, to walk the streets in tank tops. That's not sexy, that's normal.

Dressing for Dubai, where I'm traveling, is another matter. I hear it's a cosmopolitan city where people forgive Westerners their trespasses and tourists wear anything they want. But I think it's wise to respect one's hosts when traveling abroad and in Dubai, an Arab city, that means covering up as much skin as possible, from shoulders downward.

Problem was, I had to dig through my closets and drawers to find shirts and dresses with sleeves, that weren't too low cut, that didn't have cut-outs, and dresses and skirts that fell below my knees. And, came up pretty much empty-handed.

So, I went shopping. And, couldn't find anything.

It's because most Western dress that I would want to wear, is provocative in some way. Trends often reflect the shifting focus on different erogenous zones, selecting what is to be concealed and revealed to maximize the beauty of the female form.

Hydrating masks from TheFaceShop will be my skin's best friends in the desert. Alas, I forgot my sunscreen at home!

So, if I found a top with a high neckline, I'd turn it around and find a low-cut back. A lot of sleeves today have cut-outs to show more skin. Many tops are so long that shorter girls like me are wearing them as dresses that are about an inch or two away from impropriety.

All I found were a few cast-off long skirts—no doubt discarded for being unsexy—from Goodwill. I dug some more at home and cobbled together five days worth of garments that might pass muster when worn with scarves, and I also figured I could wear leggings under some tunic-style dresses.

There was one shirtdress I dug out of a suitcase, and I wondered why I never wore it. Was it too tight?

Nope. I tried it on and it fit in all the right places, but, it was too long by about four inches and I never got around to hemming it, so the length made it perfect for Dubai.

Only problem was, to my eye and sense of proportion, it was too long, so it stayed at home.

There's appropriateness in terms of cultural mores, and appropriateness by fashion's rules, and this time, fashion won. I'll see how it all works out.

Furla Fall-Winter 2016 at RHC

April 20th, 2016
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PHOTOS COURTESY FURLA

Furla's Valentina Camouflage handbag is among the brand's recently launched Fall/Winter 2016 designs.

Furla hosted an exclusive preview of its Fall-Winter 2016 handbag collection April 21 at its Royal Hawaiian Center store. In town for the special event was the company's CEO Scott Link, to share some of the new design directions.

The new Furla bags are influenced by music, from the rebellion of from rock to fun of pop, reflected through laser cuts, kaleidoscopic patterns, golden studs, and fringe, starting with leathers smooth, supple and soft to the touch.

Bags such as the Furla Valentina and Furla Club also make a statement about our times, where constant exposure to stimuli and other cultures are prompting artists to create new aesthetic harmonies.

Furla's Club Bag.

Furla's Metropolitan Bolero.

furla

Kini watch: Judges go bananas for his genie pant look this week

April 15th, 2016
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PHOTO COURTESY LIFETIME

Kini Zamora's summer genie pant look him put in the top 2 this week.

'PROJECT RUNWAY' ALL STARS SEASON 5
Episode 10 recap: "Rebel With a Cause"

Business today is often about forming partnerships, and many fashion brands appeal to consumers through philanthropic contributions that allow them to feel like partners in giving back to their communities.

This week the designers are introduced to Yvonne Niami, founder of N:Philanthropy, a brand that gives 10 percent of its net sales toward fighting pediatric cancer. The designers are tasked with designing a "fashion-forward summer look that is sophisticated with a badass edge" for the N:Phil girl.

Hawaii designer Kini Zamora takes a risk by creating a genie pant that he knows judges will love or hate, but at midpoint in the competition, he doesn't want to risk playing it safe either.

His original plan also called for a cropped yellow tweed jacket, but mentor Zanna Roberts Rassi sees pant and jacket together and tells him she wants to see, "less disco banana, more sophisticated cool girl." He has the sense of humor to laugh at the critique, saying he doesn't want to create a disco banana either.

He decides to dip-dye the bottom half of his jacket black to tone down the yellow, but at the last minute he ditches the jacket and sends his model down the runway in the pant and a halter top. The judges like the "kookiness" and "ballsiness" of his design.

His risk-taking paid off and he is placed in the Top 2 along with Emily Payne, who is named the winner.

Ken Laurence struggled with creating a top to go with a white pair of pants. At the last minute, he gives up completely and drapes a piece of fabric as a halter top. It is so thrown together that I felt sure he was going home, but it's Dom Streater and Asha Daniels who end up in the bottom.

Both looks were too heavy looking for the challenge, but Dom's look was beautiful and it was obvious they both put a lot of work into their designs. Unfortunately, Asha ends up going home when it should have been Ken.

Emily Payne scored the win for her design, which started as a deconstructed power suit.

Asha Daniels was sent home for a design more severe than summery.