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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, September 18, 2001

Island Style
Hawai'i women shopping for Opera Theatre ball

 •  Key fund-raiser says Carmen Ball is her 'swan song'
 •  Fashion Calendar

By Paula Rath
Advertiser Staff Writer

The season of formal galas and holiday extravaganzas is fast approaching and Hawai'i women are beginning their quest for the right evening gown.

Deida Bourne gets into a "Carmen" mood in a Sue Wong beaded gown. She didn't choose this one to buy, however.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

Among the serious shoppers will be the 300 or so invitees in need of a sultry, sizzling, sexy dress for the kickoff to Hawaii Opera Theatre's annual ball in celebration of its "season of the wanton women," billed as such because the three operas, "La Traviata," "Salome" and "Carmen" each feature a sultry heroine.

This year's opera ball theme is "Carmen." The invitation is a sophisticated screen of silver on black with a single long-stemmed red rose, which suggests some ideas for thematic wear: black Spanish lace, crinolined skirts, a splash of red, perhaps?

We went shopping with two of the volunteers who have been working for months on the Carmen Ball and investigated this year's evening wear trends.

Dale Oliva heads up the production and printing committee while Deida Bourne will oversee seating and registration. Bourne would like to find something "dramatically Carmen." A tall, statuesque former model and beauty queen, she will not be difficult to fit. Neither will Oliva, an athletic, trim petite at 5 feet 3 inches tall.

Dale Oliva tries on a black velvet Tadashi gown from Neiman Marcus. Like Deide Bourne, Oliva didn't choose this one to buy.

Deborah Booker • The Honolulu Advertiser

First stop: Neiman Marcus. A beaded gown with bolero jacket by Carmen Marc Valvo (the designer's name, of course, a perfect match) caught Bourne's eye. The style and fabric both "spoke Spanish" to her. She also tried a slinky bias-cut gown with beads that changed color from blues to purples depending on the light. Though she loved everything she tried on, Bourne is still searching for the perfect gown for the event.

Oliva was attracted to a Tadashi black velvet cowl neck column with a fabulous back accented with a rhinestone pin. She also tried

a separates look with a black-and-white blouse and black skirt from Vie by Victoria Royal. In the end, Oliva bought a strapless dark green "Moorish-looking" gown with subtle gold stitching from Laundry by Shelli Segal.

Trends for 2001

A survey of retailers around O'ahu indicates some emerging trends in evening wear for the coming season as well as a few tried-and-true evening looks.

The movie "Moulin Rouge" seems to have inspired fashion designers the world over. Here in Hawai'i, Anne Namba has adapted her kimono couture to the look popularized by Nicole Kidman: a fitted, boned corset with a big ball gown skirt that's flat in the front with the look of a bustle in the back. The corsets are pieced together from obi and kimono silks in a spectacular array of colors.

Namba has also taken some of her classic styles and brought them closer to the body, but "not so form-fitted that you have to have a perfect figure to wear them," she said. She coordinates these pieces with jackets for those who prefer to cover up a little.

Layers of sheers over opaque fabrics offer a figure-forgiving look. Diana Kawaguchi, Sears district manager, calls this "illusion dressing." One of the most popular combinations this year is sheer lace over a velvet or satin.

Glitter is still big at Sears, whether from sequins, beading, metallic foils or "disco dots," those tiny circles of shine that are compressed right into the fabric.

Among Kawaguchi's favorite new styles is the "car-wash pant," soft evening slacks with an overlaid skirt made of strips that resemble the flaps in a car wash.

Kawaguchi is expecting lots of velvet, especially in reds and blacks. So is Sacha Beretta, assistant buyer of evening gowns for Cache. She added that plum will also be a popular color this season.

Beretta said Cache will carry lots of thick stretch satin in evening separates. Also corset tops with either ball gown skirts or "fly away pants," created from two layers of fabric, with the top layer split up the inseam and outer seam to create a skirt-like effect. She said lace will also be a major trend.

Joan Kaner, fashion director at Neiman Marcus, said the big news for fall is the resurgence of black after a couple of seasons when color ruled the night. Matte jersey and brown velvet will be key fabrics. She sees a return to a more formal, sophisticated look.