Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Antique purses on view at SFO

April 27th, 2016


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:

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.

I'm too sexy for Dubai

April 21st, 2016


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.

Collections of Waikiki lightens up for spring

March 20th, 2014

collectionsmmMomoko Metzker in a David & Goliath T-shirt with shorts and clutch from Vivienne Westwood.Nadine Kam photos

Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa hosted a fashion show featuring spring and summer looks from Collections of Waikiki to celebrate the start of the Spring 2014 fashion season, as well as the hotel's 113th birthday.

The casual event took place in the open air of the Banyan Courtyard. The Collections of Waikiki comprise more than 60 fashion boutiques within the Moana, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Sheraton Waikiki. Spread out as they are, I didn't realize there are so many! Just goes to show there's a lot of shopping opps beyond the increasing number of Kalakaua monoliths.a

Among shops featured were Tori Richard, Vivienne Westwood, First Break Hawaii, San Lorenzo Brazilian Bikinis, Pashma, Reyn Spooner, Volcom, Newt Hawaii, and more.

Smaller showcases took place on Kalakaua Avenue fronting the hotel, attracting the attention of passersby who were rewarded with prize balloons that could be redeemed for free gifts from the participating boutiques.

Na Hoku Hanohano award winner Kamuela Kahoano also performed for a portion of the fashion show.

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collections4From left, designs from Tori Richard, David & Goliath and Vivienne Westwood, on Roycen Dehmer a Reyn Spooner shirt and Tori Richard shorts, and on Morgan Clark a top and bikini from San Lorenzo and shorts from Rebecca Beach.

collectionsslSan Lorenzo bikini.

collections2A round of evening looks: On Momoko, a Volcom one-piece with Vivienne Westwood trousers, Pashma dress, on Roycen Vivienne Westwood, and on Morgan Clark a maxi dress from Rebecca Beach.

collectionspashmaDress by cashmere and silk specialist Pashma at the Royal Hawaiian.

collectionsThe models with emcees Angela Maki Vernon and Vivienne Westwood boutique manager Jered Branco.

#MyKiplingBag Tour continues in Waikiki

December 19th, 2013


An 8-by-10 foot inflatable replica of Kipling's Defea bag marks the spot of #MyKiplingBag Tour.Nadine Kam photos

Kipling, a fast-growing global accessory brand, brought its #MyKiplingBag Tour to its second Hawaii store in the King Kalakaua Plaza, 2080 Kalakaua Ave., for three days of fun and celebration.

The event started yesterday and continues from 3 to 9 p.m. today and Dec. 20, with an interactive photo experience, free monogramming of purchased items, a sweepstakes, VMV Hypoallergenics Beauty Bar, and complimentary drinks offered from 5:30 p.m. daily.

The event is free. To RSVP, visit

Founded in 1987, the Belgian brand is known for injecting fun into its lightweight, contemporary handbags, accessories, and luggage for women of all ages, with the aim of creating the perfect accessories for an active life.

Hawaii got to know the brand through Macy's stores, and the company did so well that it was able to open its first Ala Moana Center store in May, followed by this Waikiki sibling, in the large space that was once home to Banana Republic.

In the spirit of travel and adventure, the brand is named after Rudyard Kipling, author of “The Jungle Book.” In homage to the story, Kipling chose the monkey as its mascot, and each of its bags is accompanied by a hanging monkey keyring. Check out their really cute video featuring their monkey troop:

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The company offers multiple ways to engage with the brand through social media, with opportunities to win merchandise through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For instance:

Instagram your photo with #MyKiplingBag and follow @KiplingUSA to win weekly prizes and a grand prize of up to $1,000 in products from the Kipling Create Your Own Collection.

Fill in the blank: "The funniest thing in #MyKiplingBag is ____" at Instagram to win weekly prizes.

Name that monkey: The company names each of its monkeys, many bearing the name of its employees around the world. Trouble is, so many monkeys are sold, they are always looking for new names. If you've got one to share, tell them on Twitter @KiplingUSA #KiplingNameGame and you might be surprised one day to receive a Kipling accessory and Kipling Monkey with your own name on it!


Colors that make you smile, and a barrel of soft, furry monkeys too!


Stacy Roman, left, and Kathy Hines, right, vice president, marketing for Kipling were in from New York for the grand opening, with Cris Pageler, PR and social media manager.


From left, Jan Hail, Lance Rae and Joanne Magday posed for photos with Kipling bags. A prompter in front of them called for acting out various scenarios, ranging from yogaing to caffeinating to jetsetting.


Miss Hawaii USA 2014 Moani Hara and Jocelyn Fukuda also stepped in front of the camera. I don't know which word they're responding to.

kipling lee anne

Celeb chef Lee Anne Wong provided the food for a private event before the public opening, including Korean-style sushi and dessert bruschetta topped with Greek yogurt and diced tropical fruit. She was helped by Jason Chow, left, and Andrea Onetti of Onda Pasta. She's getting ready to open Kevin Hanney's Koko Head Cafe in January.


Shoppers can get their purchase monogrammed with up to nine characters, with several choices of typefaces and colors.


Lindsey Muraoka, left, and Ritsuko Kukonu show their monogrammed Freedom cosmetic/pen cases. (more…)

MoCa Shanghai celebrates 'Esprit Dior'

September 28th, 2013


At 23, Christian Dior opened two art galleries, and some of his later fashion was inspired by his artist friends, including Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró, Georges Braque, Paul Klee, and Salvador Dalí.Nadine Kam photos

"Esprit Dior"
Museum of Contemporary Art of Shanghai, 7 People’s Park, Nanjing Xilu, Huangpu District
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through 10 November 2013
Cost: $30 RMB (about USD$5 per person)

SHANGHAI, CHINA — I was lucky enough to be in Shanghai to see the grandeur of MoCa, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Shanghai's fall exhibition, "Esprit Dior," honoring the work of legendary designer Christian Dior.

The exhibit, open through November 10, explores the world of Dior, with more than 100 iconic dresses and gowns from the 1940s through the present, jewelry, illustrations, photography by Patrick Demarchelier, and contemporary works by such major contemporary Chinese artists as Liu Jianhua, Lin Tian Miao, Qiu Zhijie, Yan Pei Ming, Zeng Fanzhi, Zhang Huan and Zheng Guogu, who present their interpretation of the Dior spirit. The exhibition evolved from a 2008 exhibition in Beijing, "Christian Dior and Chinese Artists," the start of a dialog between haute couture and Chinese Contemporary Art, which continued with a Dior haute couture exhibition at the Chinese National Museum in Beijing  last year.

The exhibition opened with a walk up a ramp, like a mini Guggenheim setup, the walls lined with Dior sketches dating to the start of "The New Look" in 1947. From there, we entered the exhibition rooms showing the range of designs from the House of Dior, from its original designer to the opulent John Galliano years, to today, with a few designs by current designer Raf Simons.

Christian Dior unveiled his first collection in February 1947, with a silhouette that idealized women's curves, accentuating bust and hips with a nipped in waist. The celebration of femininity was dubbed "The New Look" by Harper's Bazaar editor Carmel Snow, ushering in a new era of contemporary design for the post World War II era, sweeping away the utilitarian, frugal styles that had been dominant.

dior classic

Dior's New Look in 1947 highlighted women's curves, with an idealized waistline, and long full skirt that bid adieu to the era of World War II rations and scarcity. At right is Dior's Aventure outfit, with black-and-white houndstooth jacket and wool pencil skirt, from 1948.

simonsDior photo
From current Dior designer Raf Simons' Fall-Winter 2012-13 haute couture fashion show.

In his day, the designer dressed Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Marlene Dietrich. That relationship continues today, with many an ingenue gracing red carpets in Dior. Among them are Charlize Theron, Marion Cotillard, Natalie Portman, Emma Watson and Jennifer Lawrence.

Also at the heart of his work was an admiration for artists of his day, including Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró, Paul Klee and Salvador Dalí, whose work inspired designs. He also celebrated the art of 18th century living and the beauty of the royal chateau Versailles, in sumptuous ballgowns, perfume bottles and Trianon Gray that came to be known as Dior Gray.

It is a mark of Chinese society that whatever must be done, they will do, and the museum's restaurant, MoCa on the Park, has been redone in  Dior Gray and renamed Dior Cafe for the exhibition. A glass patio area is accented with topiary in the shape of the Lady Dior handbag and J'adore and Miss Dior Cherie perfume bottles.

They are less ambitious in merchandising the event. Whereas American museum gift shops are full of note cards, posters, scarves, key rings and tchotchkes, here there are only a handful of books! Just goes to show you the Chinese, ever so practical, are more interested in education than wasteful souvenirs.

Today, the Dior legacy continues with Raf Simons creating elegant ensembles that harken to founder Christian Dior's love of gardens and art. His Fall 2013 collection incorporates Andy Warhol's early drawings as a recurring graphic.

dior art

More art-inspired garments.


Raf Simons' Fall 2013 collection for Dior continues the house's celebration of art, incorporating illustrations by Andy Warhol.


This was the golden hall, celebrating Dior's more extravagant looks like John Galliano's Egypt-inspired tut design from his Spring 2004 haute couture collection, below:


dior sign

Posters for the exhibition filled People’s Park outside the museum, and it was also one of the first things I saw when I got off the airplane.

dior top

Inside MoCa's Dior Cafe were topiary in the shape of the Lady Dior handbag and J'adore and Miss Dior Cherie perfume bottles. (more…)

Inside Jim Thompson—The Thai Silk Co.

September 12th, 2013


Jim Thompson June 2013 designs.Jim Thompson photo

BANGKOK, THAILAND — Thanks to designer-stylist extraordinaire Amos Kotomori, I was able to tour the Jim Thompson—The Thai Silk Co., while in Bangkok, Thailand, on Sept. 4, where Amos is working as a guest designer for the company.

The company has a total vertical production system, from the raising of silk cocoons, fabric production, printing, sewing, leather-working. It was amazing to see the work that goes on at the company's headquarters. I wish I could have seen the silk production as well, but that was further out into the country.

The company's American founder is credited with having saved Thailand's dying craft following World War II, when machine-made textiles from Europe and Japan were displacing the handwoven silks being produced by farmers for additional income.


Nadine Kam photos
Spinning silk to create fibers that go on to the loom, below, to bring designers' initial inspirations to life before a decision is made to put a particular design into production.

jt loom

During WWII, Thompson had been assigned to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), assigned to work in North Africa, Italy, France and Asia.

He was confident that peace would be followed by an expansion of leisure travel to the Far East and decided to go into business in Thailand. He believed that the brilliance and quality of Thai silk would appeal to the West, and had the foresight to imagine a world-class designer brand built on luxurious silks.

Along the way, silk got a boost when the costume designer Irene Sharaff used the fabric for Rodgers and Hammerstein's 1951 Broadway musical and 1956 film "The King and I," a dramatic interpretation of Anna Leonowens experience as a governess in the Victorian era Court of Siam. Sharaff contacted  Thompson, who sent her samples of Thai silk and photos of local dress from the mid-19th century.

Thompson had little time to enjoy his success. During a trip to Malaysia in March 1967, he left his bungalow for a walk after attending church services, and never returned, launching an islandwide man hunt. He was never found.

But the mystique of the adventurer and aesthete lives on in the company's line of scarves, clothing, handbags and home textiles.

jt amos

Designer Amos Kotomori with Tinnart Nisalak, design director for Jim Thompson—The Thai Silk Co. I asked Tinnart about his inspirations, and he said everybody asks that but he never has a good answer. Indicating my dress and jewelry that day, straight from my visit to Bali, he said it's just a feeling that is the same as the impulse that made me put on that dress that day, and pair it with those particular jewelry pieces. His so-called non-answer was actually made more sense than anything else I've been told.

jt portrait

Jim Thompson's portrait is a prominent feature at the company headquarters.


Some of the many variations of red that go into Jim Thompson silks.


A few examples of home furnishing textiles, including a peacock feather design.


Piecing a collection together. (more…)

T Galleria by DFS focuses on experience of travel

September 11th, 2013

Jessica Michibata 2

Japanese celebrity model Jessica Michibata wore a Dior pale pink silk bustier and a cotton and silk "Petites Roses" cloque skirt, and Dior shoes on the red carpet to the launch of T Galleria by DFS.DFS Group photo

Just back from Bali, Bangkok and Korea and felt like I was still on the road during the launch of the DFS Group's new brand identity. DFS has a huge presence at all the airports as I traveled from metropolis to metropolis, so Hawaii should be proud that the international luxury retailer chose the Waikiki store for its launch party.

Inside the galleria, redubbed T Galleria by DFS, there was champagne, martinis and hors d'oeuvres awaiting VIP guests, and a surprise performance by London R&B artist Estelle.


Nadine Kam photos
DFS chairman and CEO Philippe Schaus welcomed Marie-Chantal Claire, Crown Princess of Greece and daughter of DFS co-founder Robert Miller (draped in maile), Jessica Michibata and other guests.


Also among guests were athlete, soap opera star and "Dancing with the Stars" contestant Ingo Rademacher, second from left, with his wife Ehiku.

The "T" stands for "travelers," which resonated with me because it's something I've been thinking about a lot lately, as I prepare to hit the road again next week, this time heading for Shanghai and Tokyo. I think it will resonate with a lot of people who travel for whatever reason: entertainment, excitement, escape, exploration.

VIPs flew in from all over the world to attend the event, and one of the executives from Hong Kong told me that Hong Kong and Hawaii were the only two options on the table, considering that DFS opened airport concessions on the same day back in 1962.

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Kalakaua Avenue was closed between Lewers Street and Royal Hawaiian Avenue for the event that included food booths, a red carpet walk, kane hula kahiko performance, and entertainment by Taimane, Starr Kalahiki and the Noisettes from the U.K., all open to the public.

DFS Chairman and CEO Philippe Schaus announced the change as a curtain parted to reveal a colossal "T" to the crowd gathered on the street, who weren't quite sure what the T stood for, but nevertheless let out the appropriate "oohs" and "ahhs."

The company has invested more than $50 million in its Waikiki location over the past few years, including a new look and establishing a Beauty World presence to become a shopper's destination, and to compete with other global luxury stores, including Hawaii's first Sak's Fifth Avenue, set to break ground next year.

The Waikiki DFS store is the company's second largest after Four Seasons Macau. DFS has 14 Gallerias and 18 international airport locations in 10 countries and three continents.


Actor Daniel Dae Kim, with his wife Mia, was among the celebrity guests. (more…)

Shopping Bangkok

September 11th, 2013

Thai designs range from the Euro-chic above, to the very cutesy Alice in Wonderland sort of dress and separates, below. — Nadine Kam photos


BANGKOK, THAILAND — It's always fun to see what designers from around the world are doing, and the malls in Bangkok provide a fascinating showcase for it's entrepreneurs and designers.

At Terminal 21 in the Sukhumvit area, a whole floor is dedicated to local fashion, though it tends to get repetitive after a while, with boutiques showing a whole lot of skirts and cropped tops. Perfect for the shorter Asian torso, I noted enviously. It's the exact opposite of the West, where tops are needlessly elongated. Don't designers realize most of us aren't model height?

The downside is that Thai women must have tiny breasts because the tops don't accommodate more than an A cup. The upside is that I didn't spend any money on clothing in Thailand. (I left all my money in Bali shops anyway.)

There were much more Westernized designs at the Siam Center, where a lot of the local designers seem to take their cue from Prada or Alexander McQueen, with price points from $400 to $1,000. There was enough talent and originality on display to make me wonder whether Asia follows the west, or vice versa.

Siam Center is across from Siam Paragon, which features more familiar brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Emporio Armani, and Zara.

With four days in Bangkok, I thought I'd look around before purchasing anything, but on the last day returned to Terminal 21 to pick up two pieces I liked. Unfortunately, in this metropolis of more than 8.3 million people, turnaround is quick, and when I asked the salesperson, "Where's the blue dress you had the other day?" She just said, "Finished." Sigh.


People hang clothing from a Wishing Tree next door to the Lumpini Marriott. The hair, clothing or other personal effects of a sickly person are fixed to the tree with the hope of transferring the sickness and healing the individual.


Bangkok is known for its many street vendors, but nearby, in the Sukhumvit area, this man offers clothing alterations on the street, using a Singer sewing machine.


At Terminal 21, also along Sukhumvit Road and accessible via Sky Train, floors are loosely themed to world destinations including Rome, Paris, Japan, the U.K., San Francisco, and here, the Caribbean. The Japan floor also features several Thai retailers and designers, each with no more than 50 to 150 square feet of space. It's great that Bangkok's major malls has made the commitment to promote it's regional designers. A forward-thinking landlord needs to make the same kind of commitment to Hawaii designers.


Seating at the Siam Center, off the Sky Train Siam Station, spells out "Absolute Siam."


Each store within the Siam Center creates its own unique environment, from standard storefront, to open space, to arty hut.


Clothing in the window at Tango, at Siam Center.

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