In pursuit of... fashion
By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer
That's the motto of the moment as students of fashion design and merchandising at the University of Hawai'i at Manoa, and fashion technology at Honolulu Community College, finalize plans for their end-of-year fashion shows despite the faculty strike that's affecting both schools.
Whether there's a strike or a settlement, the students have taken the reins and are running their own shows.
This year, the UH students chose Rumours nightclub in the Ala Moana Hotel as their venue because they wanted something more intimate than the usual hotel ballroom setting. It also enabled them to reduce ticket prices from $25 to $18. And rather than walking down a runway, models will circulate among the guests, offering a closer look at designs, fabric and construction.
The theme of the show, "Eye Candy," encompasses four sections. Three of these wearable art, featuring garments made of weird stuff like soft drink tabs and twisted wire; couture or one-of-a-kind evening wear; and blue, in which all the garments run the gamut of shades of blue are dominated by seniors. The finale, called "Junior Line," features the designs of the junior class.
Honolulu Community College students eschewed the nightclub route (their last show was at the Pipeline CafÚ) because they found many of the parents did not attend because they were uncomfortable in the setting. Instead, their show will be held at Ala Moana CenterStage, where anyone can attend free of charge.
The show theme is "Through the Eye of the Needle," a reference to how each student looks at a piece of fabric differently and gives it a personal interpretation.
Five sections will divide the show: casual, aloha, business, fantasy and a finale for seniors. The fantasy section includes a garment made of FedEx envelopes and a butterfly thingie that almost defies description suffice to say it's a bit bigger than a bra but not as modest as a bustier.
Students in these fashion programs range in age from 19 to 39. Some had never sewn a stitch until their first day in class; others learned to sew as children. While the senior classes all are female, some male designers are included among the underclassmen.
Most say they want to stay in Hawai'i, though they recognize the limitations of a fashion career here. A few have an eye toward travel and, perhaps, a job in New York.
Among these designers, gone are the days of "one size fits all." They create with a fitted silhouette in mind. Darts (often in unusual places) and princess seams are much in evidence.
Here are thumbnail sketches of the budding designers:
Job experience: Intern at the costume shop at Kennedy Theatre.
What's next? Plans to get an associate degree in graphic design so she can combine it with fashion, perhaps on a career path to fashion photography.
Quote: "I like the idea that I can just do anything without sticking within certain guidelines."
Job experience: Hamilton Library, junior golf coach and lifeguard.
What's next? Abercrombie & Fitch management trainee.
Quote: "It's important that everyone has an individual style to wear what's comfortable and express who they are."
Job experience: Intern at the costume shop at Kennedy Theatre.
What's next? Would like to work for a small organization like Cinnamon Girl or Anne Namba, where she can get experience from sketches through final construction details.
She said: "I was a pre-med major, but I decided I wanted to have a happy life, so I went into fashion. My goal is to be a designer for junior women's wear."
Job experience: Sales at Kaimuki Dry Goods and alterations at Chic Mode.
What's next? "I have no idea what I want to do. Right now I'm stressed out on fashion, but that may change."
Quote: "I learned the joy of sewing at Chic Mode from Gertrude Ogawa, and I have been sewing ever since."
Hometown: Salt Lake.
Job experience: Sales at Ethel's and production clerk for mu'umu'u construction at Good Times by Carol Bennett.
What's next? Plans to go full time with Good Times so she can learn more about the garment industry; would like to have her own line some day.
Quote: "I like the excitement of fashion. It's not monotonous, it's constantly changing."
HONOLULU COMMUNITY COLLEGE
Job experience: Degree in merchandising; has done administrative work and human resources for a hospital.
What's next: After one more year at HCC, plans to design high-end evening apparel and accessories for women.
Quote: "I got the eye for fashion from my mother. Now, at HCC, I appreciate the years and years of experience among my teachers."
Job experience: American Savings Bank, teller.
What's next? Hopes to travel.
Quote: "I want to learn the marketing side of fashion and how money things work."
Job experience: Fast food.
What's next: Will continue at HCC, then hopes to sell her garments on the Internet.
She said: "I don't want to look like everyone else. Having my own look is important to me."
Job experience: Started doing alterations in 1997, followed by costumes for girl group Joy, then custom sewing (weddings, proms and suits for Japanese customers). Is working on her own wedding gown and bridesmaids' dresses for her Feb. 2 wedding.
She said: "I chose fashion because I go into a store and can't find anything that fits, and I think 'I can do it better.' At HCC, I got to do everything I've always dreamed of."
Job experience: None, and she didn't know how to sew when she began at HCC.
What's next: Plans to go on to business school to learn more about developing a junior line.
She said: When creating a garment, "You have to love your design passionately or not go forward with it."
Job experience: Has a home-based business sewing and rebuilding Barbie dolls, selling them on eBay at Heavenly Dolls & Designs.
What's next: Another year at HCC, then hopes to open her own boutique selling her designs; or perhaps a job with Mattel.
She said: "I love to create. Give me fabric and I'll find something to do with it." During her 18 years of sewing Strack has made everything from quilts to tuxedos.
Hometown: Pearl City.
Job experience: Office work in a small company offering physical therapy services.
What's next: Will complete the fashion technology program at HCC, perhaps work at Gucci or Prada and ultimately hopes to design her own line of clothing on the Mainland because "we don't have enough here to support fashion."
She said: "My favorite designer is Vera Wang, and I would like to design for Oprah, my role model."