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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Wednesday, May 23, 2001

Aloha Crisp? Eh, 'ono won ton!

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By Catherine E. Toth and Derek Paiva
Advertiser Staff Writers

Monday night's "Pearl Harbor" premiere gala proved three things: Nobody understands "Aloha Crisp." Disney doesn't know from lei. And the Islands sure know how to put on a feast.

First, those clothes: Vintage aloha shirts, cargo khakis, flower-print dresses with tennies.

It was painfully obvious that no one who attended the big party for Touchstone Pictures' "Pearl Harbor" knew what in the world "Aloha Crisp" meant. That was the dress code prescribed by Disney for the more than 2,000 guests who attended the multi million-dollar event aboard the USS John C. Stennis.

Disney had issued an explanation for the wondering fashion-conscious, suggesting pressed Hawaiian shirts, pantsuits and comfortable dresses. Sandals, open-toed shoes and high heels were restricted because of the danger of tripping on the aircraft carrier's flight-deck surface.

But hardly anyone heeded the warning, as celebs and lucky guests strutted down the red carpet in everything from '80s off-the-shoulder crop tops to strappy stilettos, from cream-colored suits to untucked aloha shirts. Velvet pants, even.

"I knew what the 'aloha' meant," said veteran TV journalist Sam Donaldson, in a dark, dressy sport coat, blue aloha shirt and cream pants. "But I didn't know what the 'crisp' meant."

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono and first lady Vicky Cayetano both wore dark pants, Asian-inspired tops and close-toed shoes.

"I figured whatever it meant, it had to be tucked in," Hirono joked.

While the local guests struggled with the definition of "Aloha Crisp," the visiting guests were entirely baffled by the concept.

"I thought it was a breakfast cereal with big chunks of fruit in it," said actress Catherine Kellner, who plays nurse Barbara in the film. She defied the dress code, wearing a snug, rosy striped dress with flowy shoulder fringe and strappy shoes.

Film stars Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Alec Baldwin and Cuba Gooding Jr. modeled their own personal picks for suits, in cream, gray, black and olive, respectively. The women, on the other hand, provided the eclectic fashion scenery, finding creative ways to look elegant in comfortable shoes.

Local actor Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, who plays Genda in the movie, wore the most interesting version of the suit — an aqua blazer barely covering his bare chest and black cargo pants.

And the lei? Why didn't somebody tell the party planners that carnation-tuberose lei are the kind normally bought in bulk when we're on a tight budget? Certainly not the lei you'd choose for a star. Kate Beckinsale didn't even wear hers. And actor Dan Aykroyd, sharp in a black suit and dress shirt, opted for the colorful fake lei you find in ABC Stores.

And, finally, all-important for Hawai'i folk, the food: The menu was as eclectic as the fashion.

Indigo Eurasian Cuisine served its trademark won tons made with goat cheese; shiitake mushroom and chicken bao, or stuffed buns; and maki sushi and nigiri sushi.

The experience of serving this big and this A-list of a crowd was "phenomenal all the way around" for catering director Greg Johnson, who said: "I loved hearing local people, the media, celebrities and politicians shout at me: 'Great job! Phenomenal!'"