Nadine Kam photos
From left, Fighting Eel's Linh Owen, Rona Bennett and Lan Chung, in a limited-edition FE tee created to celebrate the opening of the third FE store in Waikiki.
Fighting Eel presented a fashion show and summer collection launch party at The Republik on May 30th, also a celebration in advance of FE's third store opening at the Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki on June 16.
The new store is located in a primo ground-floor site in the central Building B. In addition to carrying Fighting Eel, the store will carry the appropriately resort-themed Ava Sky line also designed and produced by the women of Fighting Eel.
It's a big year for FE founders and designers Lan Chung and Rona Bennett, who are marking FE's 10th anniversary. With clothing also designed for the next generation of Baby Eels, they seem to be well on their way to building one of those granddaddy empires, so some future fashion writer will be able to talk about them in the same breath as those multi-generational brands as Tori Richard, Iolani and Surf Line Hawaii!
The show on the 30th was created and designed by Lindsey Higa with Mahina Boersma styling hair & Timeless Classic Beauty handling the makeup.
While I was shooting the show, there was a guy standing next to me toward the end, who recognized the pineapple print of one of the dresses. He kept saying, "Wow, that's vintage Fighting Eel; that's really retro."
I was thinking, a guy's not supposed to know his fashion history. Turns out he was the boyfriend of one of the models, who he said has pieces from nearly every FE collection.
I've saved a lot of FE pieces as well. I still have pieces dating to their inaugural summer collection in 2003, when they were doing tight-fitting tank tops with cute appliques, from shakas to starfish. I love those! They are so well made they have held up over time. I also have pieces from one of their holiday gold and silver lamé period. I have at least four of those pieces, from, I believe the fall of 2006, because there was a spring 2007 fashion "Face-off" between Lindsay Lohan and Jamie-Lynn Sigler online at People magazine.
Nadine Kam photos The 1950s meets 1980s in Jenna Sato's "Dreamboat" collection.
Students from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Apparel Product Design and Merchandising Program staged the 47th annual senior fashion show, “Zeitgeist: Spirit of the Times,” April 28 at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa.
The show featured the work of 13 junior designers and seven graduating seniors, highlighted by the individual senior collections, with a finale of three segments: “Blistering Magnetism,” with strong abstract and modern details; “Écobilan,” meaning eco-balance and offering examples of sustainable design; and “Renewable Energy,” incorporating LED lights and glowing fabrics.
Here's a look at what was shown, along with snippets of my interviews with each of the seniors prior to the shows, allowing you to watch the videos and see how well they lived up to their intent.
Congratulations all, and see you in the real world!
Models in ultra-freminine looks from Kitti Kurokawa's "Le Blossom" collection.
Patricia Clariza showed Jazz Age-inspired looks from her "Moonshine" collection.
A 1980s film about the 1950s captured Sato’s imagination. Watching “Back to the Future,” she learned the term “dreamboat” and was inspired by the era’s innocence, full skirts and sweetheart necklines.
She couples brocades with sheer fabrics, with a little bit of the 1980s expressed through high-halter necklines and backless silhouettes, “so it’s not typical 1950s,” she said. “It’ll have a little more edge and sexiness to it.
“There’s a lot of my personal story in it because I love vintage, and cutouts are my signature detail.”
Just because Moers’ focus is fashion doesn’t mean he’s been ignoring his other classes. The anthropology and history of earlier civilizations started him thinking about ways our ancestors used natural materials to shield themselves.
His collection embraces leather and other natural materials that lend themselves more to construction than draping when suiting up the modern warrior.
“It’s taking the idea of making nature very edgy and clothing the warrior of today,” he said. “We’ve evolved, but we still need those shields — not for battling lions and tigers, but battling other things that are more emotional now.”
Just before the Kauai-raised designer first set foot in a UH classroom, he visited Japan with his parents, where they came upon “hills and hills of lavender flowers” in Hokkaido.
“It was still snowing, and the wind would catch the flowers and they would move it in huge waves,” he said. “It was breathtaking.”
They got out of the car to take photographs and lie in the fields, and the beauty of that moment is reflected in his collection featuring lilac and other floral hues, also inspired by laid-back Kauai and his grandmothers’ orchid collections.
The designer loves the complexity of a mash-up of different weights and textures of textiles and brings her piece-y aesthetic to a collection of outerwear that showcases her love of contrast and tailoring.
Not all her friends understand her penchant for mixing styles that might include a bit of loose grunge with uptight, buttoned-up jackets.
“They tell me, ‘I don’t even know what you like. I don’t know your style.’”
But the fashion crowd will appreciate the beauty of her paneled coats, and her friends are likely to follow suit … as the mainstream always does, two years later.
If you're stopping by Honolulu Night Market today, check out Quince Home next to the Pinch of Salt pop-up shops.
That's where owner Marissa Selders merges her retail and interior design background to offer a few of her favorite ideas and objects for the home, full of color and whimsy.
While there I also ran into Jenny Cao-Wu, who launched the website Freshionable.com, catering to an underserved market in Hawaii, career women who want to balance the need to be professionally conservative, but personally edgy, not dowdy.
Although Jenny offers clothing from across the nation, at the Night Market, her focus will be apparel by local designers Allison Izu, Umee, and 19th & Whimsy.
The events are centered around 683 Auahi St., from 6 to 11 p.m., with an "I Love Kakaako" fashion show at 8.
This ensemble from Darling is among the designs featured at Jenny Cao-Wu's online shopping site, Freshionable.com, highlighting career wear from emerging designers.
Tabletop treats at Quince.
On the bookshelf.
Even Quince's mascot is colorful. He hangs out by the door so don't step on him.
Nadine Kam photos Island Slipper owner John Carpenter is surrounded by some of his employees, next to Dorothy Kohashi in mu'umu'u. She is the daughter of Island Slipper founders Takizo and Misao Motonaga.
May 10 was a holiday for employees of Island Slipper, whose only obligation to the company that day was to show up in time for a bus ride to the grand opening of the company's new store at the Royal Hawaiian Center, before heading to lunch courtesy of boss John Carpenter, at Tsukiji Fish Market and Restaurant at Ala Moana Center.
The new store was designed in the nostalgic spirit of the beach homes that existed before the concrete and hotels that now line Waikiki. Located on the center's second floor, the shop's exterior stands out in its seafoam color, with warm wood interior.
Where most slipper shops are crammed into a small footprint, with wares simply lined wall to wall, Island Slipper has the luxury of 2,000 square feet, with lots of open space and retro displays paying homage to the company's 67-year history.
"We had to bring our game up because Waikiki is a different market," Carpenter said, adding, "Our desire was to create a fun place to shop where our customers feel at home."
Showcased are Island Slipper's signature floral-designed footwear, as well as women's designs incorporating beads, raffia and pyramid studs, and men's designs in leather and suede.
I was a little late to the opening, and walked in to find a surprise waiting for me. In 2011, I'd attended the grand reopening of Island Slipper's Ward Warehouse store and was impressed enough to write a feature story about the company. I happen to have Cinderella size feet, so the slippers didn't fit me. So I suggested to John that he add children's styles so I might be able to fit. He explained it wasn't that simple, so I figured the time wasn't right.
Children's slippers have yet to materialize, but in the meantime, he searched the globe for a smaller women's last and created a prototype size 4 for li'l ole me me, and, it fit! Oh happy day, it is so hard to find size 4s, much less my actual size, a 3! So I will be wearing my new white floral slippers around, and definitely will be kicking around New York streets in my Island Slippers in a few weeks!
—————— Island Slipper stores are at Ward Warehouse (593-8229) and Royal Hawaiian Center Buiding A, Level 2 (923-2222).
The exterior of Island Slipper recreates the ambience of a beach house.
A pune'e adds to the beach house feel.
Vintage Island Slippers on display.
Featured from left are recent collaboration designs created for J. Crew, Japan fashion designer Tsumori Chisato, and Barney's New York.
Additional accessories capture Island Slippers island style.
One of many posters inviting shoppers to consider their sense of island lifestyle.
The Male'ana collection of honeymooner slippers, with examples above and below, allow couples to match without being matchy-matchy.
As company owner, John Carpenter can do what he wants and created the only existing pair of studded white "Elvis" slippers just for himself.(more...)
Nadine Kam photos Honolulu Community College graduating designer Jocelyn Belden posed on the red carpet with one of her models after the student fashion show that took place April 27. This model had a walk I've only seen on New York runways.
It's great to see so many more people becoming interested in a career in fashion design, but for a program accustomed to dealing with about eight graduating seniors each year, the minting of 19 fashion graduates posed a bit of a logistical problem for Honolulu Community College.
The number of grads meant each designer's turn on the runway was limited to a five-piece collection. In spite of the brisk pace and abbreviated collections, each designer was easily able to get their point of view across, in a show that took the audience from the beach into the evening.
Just as last year, the event took place at the school's oceanfront Marine Education & Training Center, where a red carpet and impressive buffet dinner awaited guests.
The students—Kitri Rowland, Pualei Beter, Thanh Apostolides (I want your gray dress!), Sera Brand, Yuka Kanno, Wanda Martin, Monica Pacleb, Jodi Park, Pong Cheung, Chai Siang Lim, Ian Ramos, Tiare Kaopua, Jacky Lau, Elizabeth Chang, Jocelyn Belden, Leina Kelly, Moses Gouveia, Christina Wong and Milan Narag—did a great job.
I look forward to seeing you all out in the real world!